Traditions bond us as a family. They provide opportunities for shared memories. Knowing that they will repeat year after year, gives a sense of rhythm to family life but also nurtures stability and strengthens our roots and our connections to one another.
Apart from the big extended family get togethers for Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter and birthdays, we also had traditions for Victoria Day, Halloween and Hogmanay.
older sister lived one block away from us. Her children, my brother and I would
go out on Halloween together. It depended on our ages, of course, whether it
was two of us, three of us or all four of us. My mum’s younger sister lived 20
minutes away – in the country. She would bring her children into the city to go
trick or treating with their cousins.
That was our tradition for many years until someone had the bright idea of putting razor blades or straight pins in kid’s chocolate bars. This happened about three years in a row and while most of us were now “too old” to go house to house, the younger ones weren’t and we still enjoyed getting together. So, my aunt (in the country) decided to start having Halloween parties. We would dress up and go to her place. She would have various games for us to play. These were always so much fun and I love looking back on the pictures from those parties.
For the Victoria Day, that same aunt also held a get together where we would all gather at her place and watch fireworks, drink hot chocolate and enjoy the holiday. Kids were a huge part of the event and there were always extras to be had.
Perhaps my favourite memory of Victoria Day was the year my young cousin was over from Scotland. It was a chilly evening and so she and my mum sat indoors, in front of the big picture window, watching the fireworks. Mel asked my mum “aunty Dot, why are there fireworks?” Mum answered, “Because it’s the Queen’s birthday” Mel thought for a second, looked around, then looked back at my mum and asked “What’s she no here fer then?”
Hogmanay was always spent at our house. My parents held a big Hogmanay party every year, with friends, family and neighbours all invited. Mum spent the day making sausage rolls, tattie scones and shortbread. My aunt made dumplin and my uncle made tablet. People started arriving about 8:30 and the place was packed with merrymakers waiting to welcome in the new year. At midnight, there was the traditional Auld Lang Syne followed by our neighbour being ushered out the back door so he could come in the front door as our “first footer” Once the business was out of the way, the food was consumed. The party went on until well into the new day. And then the extended family would gather for a big New Year’s Day dinner at one of the aunts homes.
One of my favourite traditions at any family get-together was taking photos. And in particular, taking photos on Christmas Day when everyone was dressed up.