Do you remember when you were growing up, and you thought every family did things just like your family?
For instance, when I was a little girl, I had very long hair. Every Saturday night, Mom would give me a bath and wash my hair. Then, she’d sit on a chair in our living room, put me on the ottoman, and comb out my wet hair.
She’d empty out my drawer of teeny-tiny socks. Then, she’d separate out sections of my hair, put a sock at the bottom, roll it up to the crown of my head, and tie it in a knot. I would sleep on the wet, knotty mess all night.
In the morning, Mom would un-sock my head, comb out the mass of curls, and hose me down with Aqua Net, before we’d head off to church. There we’d go - two well-dressed adults and a brunette version of Little Orphan Annie.
I’m sure it was adorable. But, I HATED sleeping on all those socks. My head felt like a dented soup can in the morning.
The sad thing is that I think I was about eight or nine years old before I realized that none of my friends had to go through this Saturday night ritual! At some point, Mom took mercy on me and stopped socking my hair.
The funny thing? To this DAY, I use hot rollers on a daily basis. Something just doesn’t feel right if my hair isn’t bouncy or curly or (at the very least) big, sexy hair. Flat, straight hair just seems like an anomaly to me.
Personally, I blame the socks.
That’s not to say all my family traditions are drenched in inflicting pain, of course.
Perhaps the most wonderful Trotter tradition was our nightly ritual of ice cream consumption.
I don’t know when it started. I just remember it always being thus.
Every night, Mom would scoop us each a nice, big bowl of ice cream. The flavors varied over the years. So did the portion size. When we were on Weight Watchers, we switched to frozen yogurt and had ½ cup portions carefully measured out. When we didn’t feel like being good, we had the full-fat, two-bordering-on-three scoopfuls.
The best was when Mom was out of town, and Dad would bring the entire gallon into the living room with two spoons. Ah, those were the days!
I was fully aware that ice cream was a “treat,” but for us it was a daily treat. When I was visiting at friends’ house, I often wondered how they could fall asleep without their daily dose of dairy!
As I grew up, I discovered other families had THEIR unique traditions, as well. When we visited my parent’s friends, the Waggoners, I was awed by their tradition of ordering takeout pizza EVERY FRIDAY NIGHT! Wow. We hardly ever ordered pizza.
Some traditions, though, were just plain weird to me. My friend Jenny’s parents used to wash their girls’ hair in the sink. I was surprised, since I knew that Jenny and her sister could easily use the shower (like I did). But their mom and dad made a big production out of the hair washing, and they seemed to enjoy the family time splashing around in the kitchen.
My friend Sarah’s family had a tradition of having breakfast and then each family member retreating to their room to do devotions for a HALF HOUR. Do you know how long a HALF HOUR is to a kid?
When Sarah dragged me to her room and set the timer for a half hour, I didn’t think anything of it. I figured we’d read books, or play, or talk, but Sarah was dead-set on us reading her devotional book, memorizing a verse, and praying together.
Oh, come on!
I was exasperated.
But, I loved Sarah dearly, so every time I visited her, I faithfully had devotions with her while I dreamed about running through the sprinkler in her back yard.
I suppose I didn’t adhere to structure well, since my parents allowed me a lot of space to grow into myself. I was used to freedom, asking questions, and discovering things for myself.
I obeyed rules, but I easily chafed under rules I felt were unfair or even ridiculous. Such as those imposed on my friends by their parents.
My parents had rules, of course, but I was always allowed to ask why the rule was in place. They were more than happy to explain it to me.
When I visited my friends, and asked their parents “Why?,” I was given a peevish look and told I was being impertinent. To me, if you couldn’t give me a reason, there was no reason why I should have to follow the rule.
The words “because I said so” were not spoken in our home. My parents respected my power of reasoning and understanding and thankfully did not treat me like a brain-dead robot.
To this day, the “why” aspect of my personality drives my husband nuts. He will tell me something, act like it’s the absolute truth, and then get defensive when I ask for back-up facts or reasons.
“Just believe me,” he’ll say.
“But I really need to know why,” I’ll respond.
He usually ends up shaking his head and muttering something under his breath – something I’m probably better off not hearing.
Back to traditions, we had plenty. From my tire swing concerts - to all three of us reading books at the breakfast table - to popcorn and Murder, She Wrote on Sunday nights.
I revel in the recollection of those warm and fuzzy family times - those unique Trotter traditions that make up so much of who I am and what is important and sentimental to me.
I can’t help but wonder what our Soderstrom family traditions will be. Nightly ice cream? Marathon Sequence games? Family devotions?
All I can say for sure is that I absolutely will NOT roll my son’s hair full of socks.