While Hank Williams Jr.’s song doesn’t necessarily depict any of my family’s traditions, it is a good way to open up with saying that even to the immensely famous, the habits of our family play a big role in shaping who we are as people. Recently, my family just concluded one of our yearly traditions and it has inspired me to reflect on just the impact my family and our traditions have had on who I am as a person. While you have your family to blame for a lot of the genetic aspects of what makes you you, if you’re lucky enough to have such an involved family like I had, you get to experience a molding of yourself totally different from that which is destined by nature. On the flip-side, if you had a rather un-involved family, that would also lead to its own unique way of creating the intricate characteristics of a person.
Speaking strictly from experience, I can pinpoint some of the major ways my family’s traditions have made me who I am. My grandfather has been a pastor for most of my life and this has had a major impact on the way that I view faith and religion. My favorite memory of my family revolving around religious traditions is that we are each given a pamphlet with part of the Christmas story on it, these pamphlets double as drawing card numbers for the present lottery that always follows, and we take turns reading our portion of the Christmas story. Even with the crazy rush of the season and the ever growing inclination to commercialize a holiday, my family has made sure to remember that Christ comes first.
My family also takes an annual vacation to the beach in which we cram in one big hotel condo (my family is huge) and enjoy each other’s company for a week. While the grandchildren have gotten older and school activities seem to migrate into summer’s territory, the attendance of everyone on these trips has begun to vary year to year, but nevertheless, the trip is booked and those that can make it do. This has instilled in me how important family time is, and that even if you can’t check up on each other daily or regularly, being with your family is something you should take seriously. They are people you should get to know and rely on and love unconditionally.
My family talks about current events, almost every time we eat together, and sometimes we get so intensely devoted to sharing our opinions I wish we didn’t talk about them at all. This has taught me that it is important to pay attention to the world around me. It is important to have uncomfortable conversations and to learn how to listen to and respect the viewpoints of others, because ignorance is not always bliss and not knowing is not always safer than knowing.
While these things just barely scrape the surface of the many ways my family and their traditions have made me who I am, they are instances that I cherish. They are things I’ll remember thirty years from now and that I’ll tell my children about with the biggest smile on my face. Some of these are things I hope to continue on into the future creation of my own family. While not all family habits are positive, they help build the mold for who we become as people. There are several negative aspects of my family that I hope to learn from and not see duplicated in my adult life.
The fact of the matter is that you should be thankful for your family and the person they helped make. Take time today to reflect on your family and to be thankful that you have them to draw from. Does your family take the same portrait every year? Do they have a BBQ cook-off? Do you all take a camping trip or go for a hike? What are some of the traditions that your family has or had and how you think they’ve played a role in molding you into who you are today?