Where the inside of my mind leaks onto the screen.

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Hokier the Tradition...

Despite my groans upon hearing the lesson's topic, I was fortunate to be in attendance during Decembers combined Young Men's/Young Women's Sunday lesson on family history.  In addition to showing a few cool videos, the teacher had kids read aloud and discuss a New York Times article about the "secret sauce" that holds families together.

Apparently, a mid-90's study showed that the single most important thing we can do for our families is to develop a strong family narrative.  According to the study, hearing stories gives kids a sense of their "inter-generational self."  Hearing the successes and failures of their ancestors helps kids develop the confidence to face difficult situations.

The military, I guess, is finding that giving its recruits a sense of history is turning to be more effective at creating camaraderie than the more traditional "break-em-down-together then build-em-up-together" methodology.

Anyhow, there was a particular part of the article that stood out to me:

Dr. Duke recommended that parents pursue similar activities with their children. Any number of occasions work to convey this sense of history: holidays, vacations, big family get-togethers, even a ride to the mall. The hokier the family’s tradition, he said, the more likely it is to be passed down. He mentioned his family’s custom of hiding frozen turkeys and canned pumpkin in the bushes during Thanksgiving so grandchildren would have to “hunt for their supper,” like the Pilgrims.  “These traditions become part of your family,” Dr. Duke said.
Now, whenever I think of our family's traditions that others may think are hoky, I think, "Wow!  What a good job we are doing."

And here's one of them.

If you've been around the blog long enough, you saw a brief homage to this tradition in an Arizona recap 5 years ago.  But I didn't do it justice then, so I will try now.

As a child, Christmas to me meant Arizona.  Almost yearly, we escaped the Utah cold and headed to 70 degree weather outside Phoenix.  Grandma and Grandpa's house on College Avenue was a pretty amazing place for a vacation.  It was pretty much an all-inclusive resort with food continuously available inside and a the huge Kiwanis Park out the back fence.

The family dogs (our dog Angie was the daughter of Grandma and Grandpa's dog Jiggy) loved the walk.  My parents loved the tennis.  But we loved two things: sitting on the camel and feeding the ducks.  I have never been to Arizona without sitting on the camel and feeding the ducks.

I don't hail from a picture taking family.  My mom much prefers to just enjoy the moment than to try to capture it.  I'm sure if I searched her house I might find a few more pictures, but I'm grateful to have visual proof that I've been sitting on the camel at least since I was 6 years old.  Considering we didn't move to Utah until I was 4, and Grandma and Grandpa didn't move to Arizona until after that, I'm pretty sure this 1987 classic may be the first camel picture.

Since I am a capture-the-moment kind of girl, my own collection starts in 2001, the first time I took Kirk to the camel.  I also required my siblings to pose for posterity.

To my Arizona Camel Pose of 2008 (featuring Kirk, Adam, and Alex) archives I can now add the Family Pictures at the Camel adventures of 2014.  Everyone was a really good sport as I forced them to sit on or near the statued beast.

It's a camel.  Which is weird.  And I'm hoping it will be one of those "frozen-turkey-in-the-bushes" traditions that glues our family together.

Of course, we also fed the ducks, each member of our growing extended family filling a unique role (mine was Historian).

Of tradition, Mark Twain wrote:
“The less there is to justify a traditional custom, the harder it is to get rid of it”
―  The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
W. Sommerset Maugham said:
 “Tradition is a guide and not a jailer.” 

In an October 2000 talk in the semi-annual general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Donald L. Hollstrum said:
"Uplifting traditions play a significant role in leading us toward the things of the Spirit. Those that promote love for Deity and unity in families and among people are especially important."
Yeah, it's just a camel.  But you know that object lesson where someone tries to break a stick (not so hard) and then tries to break a bunch of sticks bound together?  Well, that camel may just be the straw that makes us unbreakable.  Even though Grandma and Grandpa moved to Mesa a few years ago, you can bet we'll take a drive to Kiwanis park to add another stick every time we visit.