Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Let's get traditional

Yesterday, while running to Hy-Vee for a few basic grocery staples, I was sucked in by the half price Easter candy. Now, I'm not a big candy person, but there are a few things I have a hard time turning down. Pretty much anything foil wrapped is my weakness. Chocolate eggs...Reese's peanut butter cups...yum! So I carefully picked through the mountains of chocolate, selected a few favorites, and skipped merrily on my way.

While consuming just a couple (handfuls) of the brightly foiled chocolates, I began to make a foil ball from the wrappers. It is second nature to do so, and I got to wondering how on earth such a habit had begun.

When I was a kid, we never had Easter egg hunts. Well, I shouldn't say never. I don't remember having them. Mostly because we had pets, and pets get into things. My dog Maggie would have LOVED to get a chance to have some of those treats! Instead, we just had Easter baskets in which candy-filled eggs would magically appear. I was never a fan of jelly beans (Starburst being the exception!), so I concentrated on the chocolates. I'm not sure who started it, but my brother and sister and I would have competitions to see who could make the largest ball of foil. I think we were inspired to PeeWee Herman, who had a giant foil ball (AND a giant rubber band ball). I always thought if I saved my ball of foil for years, maybe I could get one as big as PeeWee's. Of course, if anyone has seen me try to keep track of something for a year...well...it was pretty much a big fail. But I started over with good intentions every year.

We have had some other holiday traditions, but the best was Christmas. Since we first lived in New York, which was 24 hours away from family, and then my dad became a pastor, which made it impossible to travel on Christmas, we created our own little family traditions. We always opened one gift on Christmas Eve, and the rest Christmas morning. We went in order of age with opening presents, and had to watch each other. This was especially difficult when it was my sister's turn, as it seemed that to rip the paper would result in a Christmas disaster, so she carefully peeled back every bit of tape until she freed each gift.

Now, the absolute BEST part about our Christmas when I was a kid was our practice drills. That's right. Practice drills to check our stockings. See, the rule was that we weren't allowed to go downstairs until 1am to look in our stockings. I guess that's because Santa was scheduled in the window between bedtime and 1am. My brother would run drills with us weeks in advance. My sister and I would pretend to sleep, and he would come in and wake us up, and we would sneak down the stairs, picking out the least creaky parts (the outside edges), and making sure we could get past my parents' bedroom door. I remember feeling so proud when Ben would turn around and tell me he didn't even realize I was behind him I was being so quiet. Good times. It wasn't until years later that Emily and I discovered that Ben actually snuck down and checked out the contents of all of our stockings before waking us up. Punk. Wish I'd thought of it.

Now that I'm all grown up, things like Easter baskets and stocking practice drills are a thing of the past. I'm watching my siblings and their families create their own traditions, and my nieces and nephews create their own memories. I had so much fun watching them hunt for Easter eggs this past weekend. I can't wait to have my own kids someday and create traditions with them as well. A little old and a little new. What are your favorite traditions?

Lyle picked a special container for his hunt.


  1. I was going to say something besides "'when I read that comment about a few handfuls of foiled chocolates' I thought you hadn't unwrapped them. I'm glad you did."

    But I can't remember what it was.

    But oh, Lyle, you make me smile! Crud, that rhymed unintentionally.

  2. Stocking practice drills...now that is intense.