Posted on September 5, 2011. Filed under: Family, Friends, My Ramblings, Recipes, Rochester, Traditions, Tried and True Recipe, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

 I just learned that my young friend Sammy is having an honor (an aliyah) bestowed on him at his synagogue this morning, so in his honor, I thought I would write about tradition(s).

Figure 1 Sammy and Gil at Rhona’s Birthday Party

The Free Dictionary defines the word “tradition” as “the handing down from generation to generation of the same customs, beliefs, etc., especially by word of mouth.”  But that negates the feelings that are inherent in the word “tradition.”  I would define it as the sharing of customs and beliefs by example and teaching.  Most traditions are good and have a modicum of warm fuzzies associated with them.  A person can have religious traditions, citizenship traditions and family traditions.  One may also have traditions with friends.  Traditions are between two or more people.  And, yes, you can have your own personal traditions, but they usually involve other people.

My religion teaches me many traditions, most importantly the tradition of close knit family and how to behave in a civilized world.  It governs my life cycle; how I was named, what my rite of passage was and how I married.  It will govern how I die.  It also governs my daily life and my spiritual life. My religion teaches me the importance of celebrating momentous occasions and many times teaches me how to celebrate those occasions.

Figure 2 Temple Beth Am, Henrietta, NY

My country teaches me the traditions of its laws, its values.  It further defines how I should behave in a civilized way.  My country teaches me a sense of community and a pride in belonging. It teaches me the preciousness of freedom. My country declares country-wide holidays (what we call “legal” holidays).

Figure 3 Statue of Liberty

My family teaches me most of my traditions, fine tuning the traditions of our religion and country to our way of life.  My family is really the core of my traditions and my celebration of all momentous and “legal” holidays.

Figure 4 Rhona Saying the Blessings Over Candles

My friends and I have traditions that we share.  My friends teach me how to share traditions and respect other traditions.  They teach me tolerance.

Figure 5 Fernando and Laura at Our Annual Chanukah Party Held at Their Home

My personal traditions are traditions that I create for myself and others. These traditions teach me creativity and the importance of all traditions that I follow in my life.

Figure 6 Rhona and Paul at a Restaurant in Kingston

So, what are some of my favorite traditions?

My favorite religious tradition is learning.  I love to learn about everything and that comes from a long line of people who love to learn.  Also, my favorite religious tradition is the retelling of the Exodus from Egypt at Passover time.  I love the symbolism and the rich poetry of the Haggadah, so I began giving a new Haggadah to my husband every year.  When we hold our own Seders, we use the Haggadahs that I have written.  That gives me a lot of pride.  Haggadahs tell the story of the Exodus and has special prayers of thanks to G-d.  Many Haggadahs include songs and poems.  We celebrate freedom.

Figure 7 A Sample of a Haggadah Cover

My favorite United States tradition is celebrating the Thanksgiving Holiday.  I love to take the time to be grateful, to spend quality family time and eat some great food.  I love to make turkeys.  It is my very favorite food to cook!  Lately though, we go to a restaurant so that no one has to bother with clean up.  All of us though prefer to celebrate it at home as the food is so much better there!  My Thanksgiving duties have now been taken over by the next generation.

Figure 8 Scott and Lisa at Thanksgiving Time

My favorite family tradition is playing games with my parents.  We usually played board games as we were growing up, but when I became an adult, we played more card games.  Of course, our favorite board game to play was Monopoly by Milton Bradley.  My favorite card game was and still is Euchre.  Today I would still enjoy playing board games, but the grandkids are into electronic games.  For a short while though, my youngest  grandson and I played an online MMORPG called Wizard 101 together.  But school interfered and he played less and less, so I cancelled my subscriptions and went back to my favorite MMORPG which is World of Warcraft.

Figure 9 The Monopoly Game I Played as a Kid

My favorite friend tradition was going over to our friend’s Leo and Laura’s to celebrate Chanukah.  Leo and Laura are more like family than friends and sadly they moved out-of-town last year and due to my own fault, we’ve lost touch.   But, Scott, Lisa and the kids and our friend, Rob would all gather at their house for a marvelous time.  Rob came all the way from Baltimore, Maryland to celebrate with us.  It’s been a long time since we saw him, but we still keep in touch.  We celebrated holidays together for many, many years, beginning when Leo and Laura’s eldest son, Fernando, was 4 years old.  Nando is now almost finished with medical school.  Alex I think graduated college this year.  I miss them!

Figure 10 Leo & Laura

My favorite personal tradition is trying out new restaurants with Paul.  We loved going on “mystery adventures” where we would get into the car, head out in a direction and set a time limit on our drive.  Then we would look for a restaurant that we hadn’t tried before.  We usually had good luck doing this and we sometimes took our friend, Joey, with us on these mystery treks.  Unfortunately, these drives had to end with the price of gas and our drastically reduced finances.  I miss them and I’m sure Paul does too!  And we lost touch with our sweet Joey, unfortunately.

Figure 11 We never used maps on our mystery treks.

Stay tuned for Part II of this article…some of my recipes that I equate with some of our traditions.


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