I recently sat down with all three of my children for dinner. It was a rare moment. Trying to coordinate everyone’s schedules around a single meal seems like a simple process, yet, in today’s world, with so many responsibilities, and distractions, even a simple family meal seems hard to pull off. And even more so, creating new family traditions, and actually sticking to them, has systematically been left by the wayside in today’s culture.
But, alas, this is not the way it’s supposed to be. We are not supposed to be too busy for family time. For cherishing long standing familial traditions, for sharing a meal on Sunday evenings, for a standing appointment of Scrabble with the kids, or a game of ball on warm summer nights. Whatever it is that links us closer to our kin, should be at the forefront of our lives.
As of late, my mother and I have been incorporating more of our heritage into our meal time. This is something that has become increasingly important to both her, and I. My mother’s side is made up of a mix of Nordic lineage, Mexican, and the Navajo tribe. While my father’s side is mainly Russian. Vastly different cultures, people’s, and traditions. But, all equally important, and relevant. She has started studying what our ancestors cooked, and ate, over in the Nordic countries, and started recreating the same meals here. It’s been such fun to introduce the kids to this idea, and to share about our family heritage through food. Arguably, one of the most important aspects of connection is through food. Food itself is a language, and my mother and I have found it to be both a learning, and healing experience to share dishes that our family long ago did as well.
This new, yet old way of spending time together has created such a deeper connection between mom, and I, and really helped the kids to see the importance of family meals, and the history of our heritage. So much so, that I asked my partner if we could make a specific day of the week a designated family night for learning about our family’s culture and history, through meal time with all three kids. Whether it was just veggie dogs on the BBQ, and a puzzle, or recreating my Grandmother Rose’s favorite dish from the mid 1900’s, carving out space, and time that we could all count on, seemed imperative to our well being, and to our family’s success as whole.
So, what kind of family traditions are you creating, or setting? What do your children know about your family’s lineage? Or what do you want them to know? As my family begins a cross country drive from California, to our new home, in the beautiful state of Wisconsin, I’m looking forward to learning more about my partner’s roots, and making sure to celebrate and incorporate more family traditions into our kitchen and home, from his side as well.
While it’s true we live in a world that glorifies being busy, we can take that back. We need to begin teaching our children, and ourselves, how to create memories, not just moments.
Diving into the archives of family traditions is a great place to start, and a stark reminder, that long before the internet, or tv, there was one main form of connection, and entertainment: your family.
Words by Kimberly Zuleger
Editorial photographed by Sharon Schuster
Mother Muse. Indy with her daughter Wand