Embracing tradition, even fowl ones

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By Robert Villanueva

The great thing about traditions is they can be started at any time, modified or adjusted, and they can be shared with those who are special to you.

They don’t have to make sense to anyone but those who participate, and even then, they don’t necessarily have to make sense as long as they are mutually enjoyed.

Over the years I’ve probably described a few traditions my girlfriend, Rebecca Ricks, and I share.

Each Valentine’s Day, for instance, we enjoy homemade pizza and champagne. Yes, it might seem like an odd combination, but that’s what we had our very first Valentine’s Day together. Then there’s the distinctly unique Thanksgiving tradition of “flying” the uncooked turkey around the kitchen. It was something Rebecca’s father used to do during Thanksgiving when she was growing up, and I picked up the tradition and continued it when she expressed one year how much she missed it.

Some traditions might change or even disappear over the years.
For many years, Rebecca and I maintained a tradition of sleeping in the room where we put up the first Christmas tree of the season, usually the living room. We’ve since fallen out of that tradition, but we maintain the tradition of playing Christmas music or a Christmas movie while putting up our trees. Yes, there are multiple Christmas trees in our house.

Another tradition of lighting candles for those we’ve lost over the years has been modified. It went from including candles to represent each lost loved one on both Thanksgiving and Christmas to a single candle representing all of them during our Christmas dinner.

Opening presents at midnight between Christmas Eve and Christmas morning is a tradition we’ve kept with my father. It’s something our family always did, and there’s something to be said for the comfort of consistency.

After opening gifts at my dad’s house, Rebecca and I return to our own home and open presents. We start with the stockings we’ve hung, which mysteriously have been filled with candy and small gifts sometime between the time we leave for Dad’s house and the time we sit down at our own home to open gifts. You see, it’s another tradition to secretly fill each other’s stockings and pretend to be surprised. Like I said: traditions don’t necessarily have to make sense as long as they are mutually enjoyed.

Traditions don’t have to be centered on holidays, either.

We’ve kept a long-standing tradition of celebrating each other’s birthdays for a week. We give very small gifts during the six days leading up to the main gifts on the actual birthday.

During our annual trip to Land Between the Lakes, Rebecca has made it a tradition of sorts to break into song, crooning John Prine’s “Paradise” — the chorus starts, “And Daddy, won’t you take me back to Muhlenburg County ...” — when we pass through the area.

I enjoy traditions, especially the ones Rebecca and I share that are like no one else’s.

Most families and couples have traditions, and many of them doubtlessly were shared for Thanksgiving while others await Christmas and New Year’s Eve and day.

Whatever traditions you and your loved ones share, enjoy their specialness.

There’s nothing like those moments of shared joy, even if it involves piloting raw poultry around kitchen appliances to make someone else smile.

Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743 or rvillanueva@thenewsenterprise.com.