family traditions: thanksgiving parade

5:29 AM

For many the beginning of the Holiday season begins on Thanksgiving Day, however, for us, it *officially* begins on Thanksgiving parade, not the big New York parade or even the Thanksgiving Day parade here in Philly. Every year we take Eamon to get his first glimpse of Santa Claus at the Mayfair Thanksgiving Parade in northeast Philadelphia. There are dancers, Irish bands, the all-important Mummers appearances, and, of course, Santa. It's a simple parade full of average, everyday folk, and things like that are just what we like.

On the way to the parade, my husband and I were talking about traditions and how important they are for families. I didn't have many traditions in my family growing up. We had our annual dinners for the holidays at my grandmother's house (packed with drama and minus several family members), my father and I had New Years day traditions with the mummers (since our family had a lot of marchers), and I would go to my Godmother's house in Roxborough ever year for the Philly Cycling Classic. Other than that, we never had any traditions like those you see in the movies: no pumpkin patches, hay rides, annial parties, tree lightings, or anything else that was special. It is no wonder our family never stayed close: we never had anything to really hold onto.

Since Terry and I have been together we have been working on some traditions of our own, and now that Eamon is growing up, they are more important than ever. Traditions create warm memories that last a lifetime; they create a sense of togetherness; and they bring a sense of anticipation, especially around the holidays. Although most traditions are generally centered around religious roots, many of ours are also based on the season (fall apple picking and summer visits to the shore to name a few); some are based on pure interests (for instance attending certain events like Comic-Con when we can), and some are based on a desire to help others (volunteering for instance). Traditions can be as simple as baking cookies on Christmas Eve for Santa or as elaborate as an annual family vacation. For me, coming from a disconnected family, our traditions help us to create our own identity as a family and help solidify our bond with those we call family and friends. And, as traditions outlive us, they immortalize a way of life I hope my child passes down to his: one of togetherness, love, and empathy.

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