An Evening on a Roof with a Fiddler: Traditions

Tradition scene from "Fiddler on the Roof"

Time for Bed

Favorite Childhood Traditions: 2 of Mine

Like many children, one of my favorite parts of the day when I was growing up was bedtime story time. Aside from Dr. Seuss’ The Foot Book, the story I begged and begged my mom to read me was unoriginally titled Time for Bed written by Mem Fox. While this could be deemed a tradition in and of itself, in this case it serves as the base story of my one of my favorite family traditions. The book opens with, “Day is done. Darkness is falling everywhere, and little ones are getting sleepy” and continues with rhyming spotlights of different animal groups tucking their babies in to sleep. Repeatedly, a mother sheep says, “Go to sleep little sheep, little sheep. The whole wide world is going to sleep.” Somehow this line stuck with me, and my mom never missed a night of reciting it to me. Don’t believe me? Peruse the last text message I, a senior in college, received from her last night. During a visit home a few years ago, my mom kissed me goodnight and, like always, said, “goodnight little sheep, little sheep.” Now, here’s the link to my favorite family tradition. In search of a response, somehow a completely nonsensical one came to mind: “Goodnight, Mama Llama.” And like I said…it stuck. Some call it Mother’s Day, but at my house, it’s Mama Llama Day. How would I explain that to a visitor from another culture? Well, I guess I’d be making a stop by the local bookstore to pick up a copy of Time for Bed in their native language. Nothing explains a family tradition like bedtime story time.

My second favorite tradition is another family-related holiday staple. Each Thanksgiving, as we sit down to dinner, there is always a little ribbon-bound piece of cloth containing a random number of candy corn. We go around the table using the candy corn to represent that which we are thankful for. While it may seems easier to get fewer and bundle your thanks, it’s actually never as easy as it seems. Perhaps this was my first lesson in brevity. If so, it backfired. Instead, I learned how to compound even the seemingly most unrelated topics into one candy corn. In fact, I was the first to divide my candy corn into the three colors to assign it three items of thanks versus just one. I can understand that this concept would seem odd or even absurd to an individual from another culture, but hey, this girl’s got a lot to be thankful for. An explanation would certainly require a thorough history lesson on the foundations of the American Thanksgiving celebration. Plus a few delicious candy corn candies, of course.


  1. Anna McCauley (8:49 p.m.)
    Discussion Entry:

    One of my favorite traditions happened the morning of my preschool graduation. On this day in history my mom served me ice cream for breakfast. And from that day forward, on the last day of school my mom allows my sibling and I to eat ice cream for breakfast. As a child this was pure chaos to me. I remember thinking “NO RULES! Ice cream for breakfast!!!!” I know this is a silly tradition, but growing up it represented so much more to me. It was not only a moment of breakfast anarchy, but also the closing of yet another year of hard work. As children we knew that if we ended the year with good grades, we would get to eat our favorite dessert for breakfast in celebration.

    Another tradition I value in my life is a family tradition. Every year on Thanksgiving my mom gives everyone in my family a new Christmas ornament. Each ornament represents each if us in our own way. For example, last year I traveled abroad for 6 weeks and my mom gave me three mini ornaments: an airplane, a globe, and a suitcase. I know this tradition is simple, but it’s something that is special to my siblings and I. The Sunday after Thanksgiving we always go as a family to pick out our Christmas tree. Our new ornaments are always the first ones we place on the tree. This tradition is special to me because we each have a collection of ornaments that represent who we are and the things we have loved over the years. I know this is a tradition I will continue with my own family in the future. Traditions bring people together while giving them something to look forward to year after year, and to me, that is what makes traditions important.

    Chelsea Roadman (11:40 p.m.)
    Discussion Entry:

    While reading through these responses, yours was definitely one of my favorites, Anna! I think “Breakfast Anarchy” would be the greatest title for a movie, book or blog. I giggled out loud imagining how cute the the scene must have been.

    Whenever my mom and I visit a restaurant known for its delicious sweet treats, she always orders dessert first. If you ask her why, she’ll respond, “Well, I just think those folks on the Titanic probably wished they’d eaten dessert first, don’t you?”

    …It’s also the logic she uses to dismiss any of my dieting efforts. But hey, if I happen to be aboard a drowning “unsinkable vessel” anytime soon, I’m all set.

  2. Kathryn Wendland (6:04 p.m.)
    Discussion Entry:

    Dollar Tree:
    When we were younger, each Christmas my parents would take us to Dollar Tree, give us seven dollars and tell us to meet them up front to check out when we finished shopping. All five of us would traipse around Dollar Tree, picking out glasses, ponytails, mirrors, Combos and everything else you can imagine to wrap up under the tree for each member of the family. I am now 21 and the tradition continues. Not many people would be familiar with this unique family tradition, but it has brought joy to our family for many years. Not only has it showed us the joy of giving, it has taught us that no matter what, it is the thought that counts… because money can’t buy happiness! This tradition celebrates family and the love that comes with making each other smile. It also celebrates the simplicity of a $1 gift and the joy it can bring to someone else’s life.

    Little Sister:
    As previously mentioned, I am the oldest of five children. My sister and I are bookends to three boys. We are ten years apart. Since she began kindergarten, we have had a yearly trip to the nail salon, Bath & Body Works, Shoe Station and school supply shopping. This trip usually comes immediately before the start of school and has more often than not included cousins and friends. This tradition is not culturally grounded, nor is it something that has been passed down for generations. This tradition began because I wanted to treat my sister before her first day of Kindergarten. It continued as a way for us to spend time together as she has gotten older. This tradition celebrates our friendship and love as sisters. As with my other favorite tradition, most people would have no idea what this tradition symbolized. Honestly, it needs little explanation. I plan for this tradition to be one that continues for the rest of her time in school!

    Anna McCauley (9:00pm)
    Discussion Entry:

    i enjoyed that you used your time with your sister as a tradition. Although you are sisters and get to see each other all the time, I think it is important to have special time set aside to create memories and bond in different ways. Every set of sisters should adopt this tradition. it’s part of being a girl, we love to shop and pamper ourselves. This is something that you two will cherish for many years to come! Thanks for sharing!

    Chelsea Roadman (11:56 p.m.)
    Discussion Entry:

    Kathryn, I absolutely agree with Anna. Your anecdote about you and your sister is precious. I’m an only child, but stories like these are the ones that have always made me wish I had a sister to treat and go shopping with, etc. It’s great that you’re taking advantage of the opportunity to have an awesome relationship with her.

    I relate to your Dollar Tree story very much. I remember being little and staring at those huge shelves full of things for just $1. Yep, I was pretty sure I had hit the jackpot. It was my little secret place that no one knew about. …or so I thought.

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