Friday, December 4, 2009
Have you thought much about the holiday traditions that you have enjoyed in your family? I've been thinking about some of the traditions in my family. I grew up in a very large family of 12 children in farming country and without television, and our closest neighbors were about half a mile away. As a result of these three facts, my siblings and I grew up doing many things together and became good friends. In the warm weather months, we played softball, basketball and other outdoor games such as tag, no bears out tonight, Red Rover, etc. In the winter, we would ice skate, play in the snow, or go inside to play games. Our family owned a number of different pairs of ice skates so we could usually find a pair that somewhat fit. If our time outside was limited, such as between homework and farm chores, we would ice skate on the small "pond" in our yard caused by the overflow from the cattle watering trough. The pond was there because we had to keep a small stream of water flowing through the pipe from the well in order to keep the pipe from freezing. This pond made it real easy for little children to practice ice skating, but it wasn't very large or very smooth ice. On Saturdays or during Christmas vacations from school, the older children would go to a real pond located in the far corner of a pasture. Little children were not allowed to go to larger ponds by themselves so it was always a treat to go with the "big kids." I remember being very young, maybe as young as three or four years old, when I learned that my older siblings were going ice skating. I kept asking to go with them, and they kept telling me that I would get cold. After listening to my begging for awhile, they relented and took me. We walked through deep snow for a quarter of a mile and finally reached the pond. My siblings immediately put on their ice skates and started clearing the snow from the ice. I became very cold, and my older brother took me back to the house. He was very kind to me, but I'm sure that he didn't appreciate walking the extra half mile in order to ice skate. I remember going to other ponds to attend ice skating parties with our neighbors. I remember that we always had to clear the snow in order to find smooth ice. Sometimes tractors were used to remove the snow, but the usual method was large grain or "scoop" shovels. I also remember having fires by the side of the pond to keep warm and that at least one of those fires was made inside an old tire. I also remember that both of my parents would ice skate with us sometimes. My siblings and I played a lot of card games, especially while home from school for our Christmas vacations. I remember playing Pit, Rook, and Flinch. I also remember that Dad would sometimes play games with us during the holidays. I don't remember that Mom played with us - which could mean that she often did so or never did. I just don't remember her playing with us. I do remember that having Dad join us in our games was a BIG deal. He worked the grave yard shift (midnight until 8:00 a.m.) sleeping a few hours here and there during the day. I'm sure that he had little time for games, but I know that we enjoyed having him join us. My siblings and I still enjoy getting together, and we often play cards or other games. They are some of my best friends. I love them dearly, and I'm certain that they return those feelings towards me. We developed these strong family bonds by working and playing together. I'll be sharing other family traditions in future weeks. I hope that your family has wonderful traditions that draw you closer together and that will be memories of joy in later years. Good family traditions strengthen families. It is never too late to develop new traditions or to give a tweak to old ones.