10/8/12

On tradition, heirlooms and family.

I've been thinking a lot this past year about family. And also a lot about tradition. 
+I always start thinking about this around the holidays. And also when I think about making babies.+
So, let me tell you a little bit about my own family. It's kind of personal, this stuff, so bear with me.

I am, and always have been, the black sheep. My entire family are all devout Christians (my father was a Baptist minister...preachers kid all the way over here) and staunch conservatives. And I mean my ENTIRE family. Aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephs (I actually don't have any nephews but if I did, they would be born again too. Before they were even born, they would be born again.). And I mean DEVOUT Christians. My mother used to have a message on her answering machine that said "Praise the Lord and leave us a message." It is no joke. I am so far from a devout Christian and staunch conservative that distance between us is inevitable. They love me, I know, but I think I'm still such a huge mystery to them, living this crazy life (my life is really so far from crazy it's laughable) in California. I've always been viewed as "different" and "unique" when really, I am not either. I think I'm just normal.

I have one sister who is 18 months older than I. We have always been very very different creatures and, although I love her and would do anything for her, we aren't what I would call close. We rarely talk on the phone. I know her children better than I know her, I think, and that's not very well. She lives in New York, near my mom, and I live here. Just about as far as you can get from another person and still be in the same country. 

My parents got a divorce when I was in high school. For reasons long since past, I don't really speak to my dad. Too many years went by, of me being angry, and him being a bad father, and now, here we are, almost 20 years later and it feels so distant and so far off that it doesn't even seem plausible to have a relationship anymore. This makes me relatively sad on certain days. The other day at the end of Californication (of all shows. My God.), Neil Young came on singing "Old man take a look at my life I'm a lot like you" and I got up, walked into my bedroom and burst into tears. Because of all the people in my entire family, my dad is the one that I am the most like. And the one I still can't ever get over the hurdle with.

My mom is the best and she would do anything for me, and I for her. We are close in a certain way. But not so close in so many others. We get along in the way mothers and daughters do, I guess. I have called her at three in the morning in what surely was my darkest hour and she has been there for me in ways only a mom can. But there has always been a certain tension in our relationship. A tugging. Push and pull push and pull. Because of the vast amount of time that we have spent apart, the time that we spend together is always mildly uncomfortable. 

My family is small. My father was an only child and my mother has two sisters. My grandparents all passed before I ever got to really know them. I haven't spoken to or seen one of my aunts in I don't even know how long. A really long time. The other one I love to freaking pieces but I have seen her approximately two times in probably over ten years. Sad but true.

I tell you all of this because, my family and I? I wouldn't really consider us tight knit, if you will. But this is something that I have always desperately wanted, and want more and more now that I am considering making my own family. These two things, family and tradition, they seem to be woven together with some pretty strong knots.

We were never that big on traditions, not that I can remember. There really isn't one thing I can think of that I do to this day because it was a tradition in my family. I am pretty sure that there are things that they all do together every year but, being so far way, again, for so long, has taken me out of that equation. I am obsessed with tradition. Probably because I don't have a rich family history, or anything tangible to hold on to. I love the idea of having kids and doing the same thing every year, in some little way, on their birthdays. I make Justin go get a Christmas tree, every year, the day after Thanksgiving. One, because I am so excited it's finally Christmas season (um, yay, I cannot wait) but two, because I want that to be something that we do. Get the tree the day after Thanksgiving every year. 

I love thinking that, someday, there will be family heirlooms that my children will give to their children. This isn't something that I have in my own life and that saddens me deep down in my bones sometimes.  I bought a tree skirt last year for my Christmas tree. Plaid, totally traditional. I'm obsessed with it. And I had the thought when I bought it that I wanted it to be something that my kids would keep. 

I look at pictures of houses. That is how I make my *fantasy* living. So I see tons and tons of pictures of families, in their homes. Gobs of traditions, hallways of family photos. Little knick knacks here and there that have been passed down through the generations. Always some quote about how that was her grandmother's chair or that chest of drawers, over there in the corner, that an auntie brought over from France. I want to have things that are threadbare and worn and patinaed. That show history, and tell a story. I want my children to have old photos of us sitting on their shelves. Photos framed in frames that I bought back in the day when we were still living in that little one-bedroom in San Francisco. When I finally get a staircase in my life again, I want a huge wall lined with family photos of all of us over the years. I buy only things I absolutely love now for this reason. I want them to last. And I want them to speak of the person that I am, hundreds of years from now. 

This lovely lady posted about her amazing bathroom upgrade and, in her post, she wrote about her nana's bobby pin holder. That she treasures and now keeps in her bathroom. I loved that. It warmed my heart right up. 


Despite all of the musings above I am determined to create all of this for my own family. Who knows, maybe one hundred years from now my great granddaughter will put my bobby pin holder in her bathroom, in her little apartment in the city, and remember the generations of people who kept it before her.

Here are some of my other favorites, of heirlooms collected and passed down over the years. Of gallery walls of old family photos. Inspiration if you will, to make it all awfully pretty for the next generation. 

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All of that being said (y'all probably did not need to know all of that. ah well.), I am going to start a gallery wall of photos and memorabilia in my front hall (yay! fun!). Only the best ones are going up there. Stay tuned.




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