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Traditions 2.0

Traditions are a big part of my family; as much as I love new situations and challenges, I cling voraciously to the rituals and rites that I’ve grown up with or developed with Brian.  One of the things that excited me most about becoming a mother was the opportunity to introduce my child to these traditions, the anticipation you feel as they approach, and the familiarity and joy you get when they happen.  It’s like snuggling under your favorite down comforter: you look at it, calling to you from your bed; you think longingly about snuggling under it all day, anticipation perhaps even hastening yours steps home; and when you finally do curl up in it at night, it’s even better than you remembered, immediately enfolding you, conforming to you, multiplying your own warmth exponentially in a soft, cushiony kind of heaven.

Not that I like my down comforter or anything.

Back to traditions, though – they’re an important part of our family life, and today Madeleine was introduced to yet another very important one.

The making of the chex mix.

Every year, my dad made chex mix for the holidays.  The recipe, his mom’s, was a closely-guarded secret, and we were not allowed to do anything to help except snap the pretzel sticks.  As my brother grew older, he was gradually allowed to help with more and more of the all-day process, but womenfolk were confined to the pretzel popping.  When I brought my high school boyfriend over to help out, I turned to him and said very anxiously, “My dad will take you aside and explain to you how to pop the pretzels.  He will be very serious about this.  This is not a joke.  Do not laugh.”  Of course, Brian thought I was kidding until my dad did just that, explaining how best to turn a pretzel stick into three equal pieces.  (There’s a two-handed method and a one-handed method, and that’s all I’ll say.)

Yep, we take our traditions seriously.

Brian loved the chex mix so much he asked for the recipe; my dad smiled pityingly and told him it was for family only, adding while I blushed, mortified, that perhaps he’d give it to Brian if we got married.  Seven years later, on the eve of my wedding, my dad handed Brian his own copy, and I half expected him to not show up the next day, having gotten what he had wanted in the first place.  Every year now, I pop the pretzels with Brian and december_05_034.jpgthen step back as he goes through the magical manly process of churning out the good stuff.  We’ve just finished the popping of the pretzels, and tomorrow’s the mixing and the several-hour baking.  But here’s the best part:

I’m standing in the kitchen doing some baking and Brian’s starting on the pretzels in the living room.  I look up, and he’s bending over our daughter, solemnly explaining what’s about to happen and how she’ll be helping in the future, and to never take the chex mix for granted.

Then he instructs her on how to pop a pretzel into three equal pieces.

It’s never too early to start.


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