My parents immigrated here to America when they were college students from Taiwan, and stayed here to live, work, and raise a family. Growing up as a first generation American child, I was first introduced to the traditions of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas not from my family, but from school. For my parents, these new holidays and the traditions that came with them were brand new. We celebrated Chinese holidays like the Moon festivals with eating mooncakes and Chinese New Year with lucky money, but dressing up for Halloween, turkey at Thanksgiving, and a tree with presents from Santa were all new concepts to my parents that I introduced to them.
Since I was an only child, my parents would indulge my whims for holiday decorations, costumes, and traditional food. Because I was only an child though, my interest in keeping traditions alive were quite limited. Once I hit my teenage years, I couldn’t be bothered with dressing up or wanting to drag all the decorations down from the attic to put up for a few short weeks, so the traditions in our home were very short lived. I never carved a pumpkin, as my parents just persuaded me to draw on them or decorate them with stickers since they had never carved a pumpkin before in their lives. I never had a real tree, as my parents bought a fake one since they never had a live tree in their home before and didn’t want to deal with the messy needles. For most of my life, this was the way holidays were for me: very little fanfare, with no traditions to look forward to every year.
When I first started dating Mr. Chocolate and started to become part of his family, I noticed a stark contrast in the way he saw the holiday season. His family, being a typical traditional American one, loved the holidays and had large family gatherings leading up to each holiday. They relished pumpkin carving and baking pies and cookies with pumpkin for weeks after Halloween. Thanksgiving was a traditional affair with a turkey and ham and all the fixings. They watched Christmas Vacation the day after Thanksgiving and A Christmas Story on Christmas day. The weeks leading up to Christmas would be exciting with picking out a tree, secret Santa stockings, and going to church on Christmas Eve.
I admit when I was first inundated with all of these new traditions and expectations, I was a bit overwhelmed. The holidays were very much like every other day to me, with perhaps gifts and a big meal sprinkled into it. One Christmas my family spent it at the movie theater as that was one of the few places open on Christmas Day, and we hopped from movie to movie that day to pass the time. To all of sudden be expected to do all these new things was a bit much for me. Mr. Chocolate, understood where my mindset came from but still loved the things he grew up with, so he allowed me to pick and choose what things I wanted to participate in. But he did mention to me that one day when we had our own children, I might not find these traditions so silly and I might want our children to get the full experience of the holidays.
When Drake was born, I started to understand what he meant. When Halloween rolled around, I wanted to take him to the pumpkin patch and dress him up for a few pictures. It was nice at Christmas time to sit him by a tree, and I took way too much joy in buying him new gifts, wanting to see him play with them. Still when he was little it didnt mean much to him either, so even if we didn’t do anything he never noticed.
But now Drake is 3, going to school and is starting to understand the meaning of these holidays, just as I did when I entered school. He wants to partake in all the normal traditions he is learning about in school. Now that he is more aware, I find myself finally embracing the traditions that Mr. Chocolate said I would once we had children because I see the joy and excitement in Drake’s face. I want to make these days special for him so when he looks back at his childhood, he can have those same fond memories Mr. Chocolate has of his own childhood. And I want him to share those same memories with his own children so that as a family, we have something to share and look forward to doing together.
Last year was the start of new traditions for me as we took Drake to a tree farm to pick out his and my first live Christmas tree. This year we went to the pumpkin patch and picked out a pumpkin to carve. Last night Mr. Chocolate’s sister and husband came over and together as a family, we carved Drake’s, Juliet’s and my first pumpkin. In many ways I get to relive a childhood now right along with my children. I am so excited now to be setting down these traditions with my own family, and I hope along the way maybe we can even start a few new ones for just us as well.