It's who we are

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By Carolyn Ten Broeck, Editor

I've always been a traditionalist. I suppose that goes along with not liking surprises. I like knowing what's going to happen. I don't like guessing about what ifs and I like having a plan of action.

I've become a little less rigid since Tom and I have been married, because he is the Master of Spontaneity. He likes nothing better than hitting the open road and searching for hotels at midnight. 

I, on the other hand, want a room booked and paid for at least a week before my car leaves the driveway.

The same holds true around holidays. I still make certain foods at Thanksgiving and Christmas because my mother made them, and probably her mother before her.

She tweaked recipes and over the years eliminated a few dishes, just as I have, but for the most part, holiday fare is traditional.

One year, instead of doing a ham with all the fixin's at Christmas, I decided to make two crock pots of homemade soup and lay out a spread of sandwich ingredients. I told my children they could eat all day, or not at all. It was there before them and they were the masters of their tummies.

It was an abysmal failure.

To this day, I can see them lined up at the kitchen snack bar ladling chili and broccoli cheese soup into their bowls and looking at me with such earnestness that I was ashamed.

"So when are you making Christmas dinner?" I was asked before they settled in for the day.

Epic fail. I didn't repeat that one as long as I had hungry traditional children in my home.

And that brings me to this – traditions are important and worth preserving.

For several weeks, I've known that when I went to Georgia for Number One Granddaughter Andi's first birthday, I would stay an extra amount of time because Number Two Granddaughter, Piper, was going to be dedicated to God in a church service Sunday.

Last week, I received a text from Piper's mom, my daughter, Allison that had a picture of her christening gown.

"Any idea how to get the stain out?" She asked.

Around the neckline of the white silk gown was a huge discoloration. Allison had worn that gown 33 years ago, and Spencer wore it 25 years ago. Since then it had been on a closet shelf in it's original box untouched. The years have not been kind.

After a few days and several experiments, the stain was still there and Allison was concerned.

I suggested a lace handkerchief or bib to cover the bulk of it.

I also suggested lemon juice and peroxide.

It was important that Piper wear this not only because her mother had worn it, but also because it was handmade by Allison's godmother, Freda. Each stitch was precisely and lovingly placed in the yards of silk.

I reached Allison's home before she did Saturday and letting myself in, I made way to the bathroom. There in the hallway hung the gown and the cap made from a handkerchief – a handkerchief that Allison carried when she married Piper's father.

The stain was still there, but barely noticeable.

And on Sunday, during a five-minute ceremony, Piper wore her mother's christening gown and I was wrought with emotion.

We both know the importance of tradition. It's more than doing the same thing day in and day out. It's more than making sweet potato souffle when no one really likes it. It's about the memories of making those meals, wearing those outfits and telling those stories over and over. It is our history and who we are.

It makes me so happy that Allison treasures this treasure, this tradition. I hope I live long enough to see Piper's daughter wear it.

Both the gown and I will be antiques by then.