When people talk about opposites attracting—I am living proof.
Although I wasn’t a mail-order bride ~
I was a big city girl from the Pacific coast marrying a small-town boy from the Midwest. I locked every door and checked them twice. He never locked a thing. I would do anything to avoid long lines and crowds, but he used them as a chance to be friendly with the people standing in line with him.
One of the real eye-openers about his different set of traditions was our first Thanksgiving as newlyweds. We traveled “Over the river and through the woods…” to spend the holiday with his family. May I just say that that entire Thanksgiving Day simply felt “wrong.”
His family didn’t watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. His family didn’t start a Christmas puzzle. And they didn’t sit down at a beautifully set table together while “father” carved the turkey, the children got to sneak a sip of wine, and conversation flowed as the meal and my mother’s cooking was appreciated. (I’m beginning to sound like a Hallmark card, but it was really a great up-bringing.)
Instead his family filled their plates full buffet-style and then sat down in the family room and watched the Thanksgiving football game while they ate. Talk was about the game. Then later that evening, after pumpkin pie, they played cards.
The food was the same—traditional turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberries, and pie. Really, the differences were minor, but for my first holiday away from home, they seemed huge—and of course I was homesick.
It made me think that holidays must have been hard for those mail-order brides back in the old west. Even if the new ways were better than what they’d left, they’d still be uncomfortable with the unfamiliar. One of my favorite mail-order bride stories is the Newbery Medal winner ~ Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan.
Traditions – rituals that are done intentionally on a daily, weekly, monthly, or annually schedule–have the ability to strengthen family ties, provide comfort and security and a sense of identity. Traditions are a constant in a world that is continually changing, and a world that is going too fast. Like the comfort of knowing the leaves change color in autumn and snow flies in winter, traditions gird and strengthen roots in a family.
When my own children came along, my family traditions and those of my husband’s melded and became one. It has been a pleasure to realize that along the way we created a few family traditions that “stuck.”
- Family game night
- Christmas Eve Candlelight Service
- Christmas puzzle
- Birthday measuring against the doorpost
- A special holiday table setting and meal and conversation—and THEN football.
I’ve never written a mail-order bride story, but I can see how the situation would ripen the plot for misunderstandings and emotions. Even today, I have several friends who have met their spouses over the internet. They are the mail-order brides of today and I can only imagine some of their first holidays together bumping heads regarding traditions.
As this holiday season approaches I am thankful for many things. One of them is you–my readers. It is my hope that you have a few traditions that enrich your life and bring you happy memories. If you don’t—please consider starting one.
I would love to hear of any family traditions you’d like to share…
(Neither one of which are Mail Order Bride Stories!)