Have you ever wondered about your family traditions? What are they and when did they come to be? That’s been me this summer. Every summer we have our “must do” plans, and my girls go along without question because it’s tradition. This year, it became clear that some of our habits have become family traditions.
Ever since I was a child my family has travelled from Saskatchewan out to Vancouver Island to visit my grandparents and uncle. Each summer we’d pack up our stuff, and, for two weeks, head out on our adventure. As a kid, those two days of driving our faithful route on the Yellowhead seemed like they took forever! When Mom was kind enough to let us sit in the front seat, you became so excited for a better view of the mountains.
My grandparents and uncle shared 1.2 hectares that sat between two highways. When you’d walk over to Grandma’s from Uncle’s house, you’d walk on this amazing path past the massive woodsheds, through the tall cedars and maples, and over a small bridge at the creek that separated the properties. The peacefulness that you’d feel on just that short walk is like nothing else. Once you got to Grandma’s, you knew that it wouldn’t take long for the cards to be broken out and the cribbage games would begin. I learned how to play crib at a young age and learned quickly, because I had to be a part of this fun that I’d been missing!
There were also other holiday things we needed to do as tourists in B.C. We had to see all the attractions the area offered, such as travelling to Chemainus to see the murals, to Duncan to see the totem poles and watch some being carved, to the Coombs country market to see the goats on the roof, and to Cathedral Grove to see trees bigger than we’d ever seen before. Every trip was an adventure, even if we’d been there many times before.
Now, here I am, years later, married and with three beautiful teenage daughters of my own. We still make the annual trek west. Taking that Yellowhead highway, we travelled so many times with Dad before he passed away in 2009, we made many of the same stops that hold so many memories.
This summer, travelling with Mom—who still joins us every year—and my daughters, I realized how many traditions we’ve made over the years. My own family has embraced many of them; some we’ve slowly let go, while slowly adding our own things along the way.
This year we went tubing down the Cowichan River, which could easily become a new tradition, since it’s a chance to relax and cool down while providing us hours of time together. We even made rollkuchen to eat by the ocean, which was definitely a first.
But one of the traditions that hasn’t died is our games of crib. The highlight this year was being able to play crib with four generations of women. How many people can say they’ve done that? It truly was a moment that I’ll never forget.
It’s all of these moments that make us who we are. For it’s in these traditions that we embrace and acknowledge our beginnings. They’re part of our roots, and I’m thankful for the memories they bring.
But more importantly, none of this is possible without God, who created the beauty that surrounds us and has been with us in all these moments, even if we weren’t paying attention, watching over us on our adventures and blessing us greatly with loving family traditions. It took me years to realize this, but now I give thanks for God’s patience and unending love.
Mel Harms, a member of Warman Mennonite Church, represents Saskatchewan Women’s Ministry on the board of Mennonite Women Canada.