Often times, when a person in the family dies, their traditions and stories pass away with them. Read on to learn how to begin a new family tradition, and how to carry on the love and memories of the people who have crossed over.
About a year ago, I was meeting with a medium (a person who can connect to souls who have left the earth plane), and she told me she saw my recently deceased Skinny Pig, Gerard. She said to me, puzzled look on her face “he’s pointing to his tail. Why would he be pointing to his tail?”
Let me preface this by stating that, obviously, he was a superhero rodent who has permanent real estate in my heart. We went on road trips together, I sewed clothes for him, I’ve snuck him into Fabric land to save him from the threat of summertime vehicle heat (sorry, not sorry)…and we’ve climbed a mountain together.
Also, he had, like, REALLY large testicles. I felt like a pervert when I first got him and (my eyes huge) could not help but notice or look away…but when I first showed him to my husband, and also to a close friend they confirmed my findings without prompting. I guess the other possibility is that we all 3 are perverts, drawn into friendship by our mutual perviness?
I, of course, prefer to think its the former rather than the latter.
This…”tail” pointing, was to confirm to me that it was in fact HIM. I cried. And I ain’t ashamed to say (type) it. One day, you’ll have deep deep love for your weirdo pet, and feel this same heart pull when someone mentions them. And on that day, holla at your girl and send me a pic cause we need to reminisce, TOGETHER.
Anywho. My little hairless guinea pig was not my first loss, nor was it my hardest. This fact reared it’s head this past
thanksgiving Fuck-Columbus-Happy-Indigenous-People’s day when I chatted with my mom the Friday before about her plans and if she’d be making a turkey. She said she hadn’t celebrated since my beloved granny (our family matriarch) had passed, and even more so now with the recent passing of my uncle, the patriarch of our family.
This statement, necessarily, exposed a caveat in what appeared to be the hole that our family’s traditions fell into when the perceived leaders of the traditions died.
My children will never know, through experience, the electric excitement of Christmas afternoon when we would all dress up (every family unit individually), then head over to my grandma’s house where all the cousins, aunties, uncles, fiancé’s, new babies and close friends would gather.
The kids would wild out, stoked to have all 20 cousins together in a house that smelled like turkey and second hand cigarette smoke, and felt like the serene groundedness that comes from sitting in the sanctuary of acceptance and commonality. I couldn’t tell you what the adults did, apart from helping with the food and (from what I could surmise from the boisterous laughter and interruptions) being HILARIOUS. When 7 year old you is daring your cousins to do stupid and hilarious shit because it’s Christmas and we’re at granny’s house and “why not?”, you’ve no time to be concerned with grown up affairs.
I often tell them stories about times of celebration, and about how we all gathered and cried and then danced when their 2nd cousin passed away tragically and too young. I share with them about how we all hugged and cried on each other’s shoulders, and how we rented a hall and packed it out to dance with the same fervency that we cried…because love and life, even when it has been lost, should always be celebrated.
I tell them about their uncle Kasey, how he was such a gifted basketball player and about the amazing opportunities he had to play on so many different teams in so many different places.
I tell them about Uncle Tyler, how he could sell water to the culligan man…this natural gift of camaraderie and salesmanship.
I talk to them about that time we all ran away down Logan and our step dad chased us in his car, window down, yelling to “get back in here, NOW”.
About how my mom would buy SO. MUCH. CORN (cue song “It’s corn”) every summer, and how our cat Face Face would hop the fence and eat our neighbours pond fish. (These 2 things are unrelated.)
I tell them about how we used to have wet sock wars at home on Friday nights, all 4 of us kids, soaking our freshly washed socks (Sorry mom, now that I do laundry, I realize that was a dick move) and then chasing each other around the house. We would swing them in circles like a dish towel and slap each other’s bare skin. Who ever had the least amount of welts would win.
Also, I tell them, maybe your slapstick humour is genetic. Probably from your dad’s side though, cause I obviously don’t have a wild bone in my body.
I tell them about how my granny would make our lunches for us everyday for school, and how we would return to her house after school each day to watch the Young and the Restless. She would always ignore us and turn up the volume when we tried to talk to her during the show.
The rage that those moments would bring 15 year old me, brings adult me tears of endearment…how I miss her fire, and her hugs. Especially her hugs. (I carry her fire with me. If you’ve rudely asked me if I’m “finally done having kids”, you probably know this to be true.)
Here’s the thing, traditions are kept alive by love, not by people. And people are kept alive by tradition.
When I set to work baking the most magical (Dora, or M&M tower, or Minecraft, or hockey etc.) cake the night before my child’s birthday (while swearing under my breath because in that moment I’d rather be bingeing the Handmaid’s Tale), I am continuing the family tradition that my granny gave me because of the meaning that it held.
Those cakes were a yearly reminder that I was deeply loved and significant, and WORTH the baking time and the money that came in my card. They didn’t happen just because, they happened because love needed to move from the inside to the outside…and in that specific tradition, that movement was done through cake and a yearly crisp 20 dollar bill.
When I tell my children my cake stories (or Christmas stories, or easter stories, or hot chocolate before bed stories, or about the neighbourhood strays we used to feed)
…about being SO excited to get off the bus after school on my birthday, I am not only allowing them to experience in soul parts of my Granny’s love that they cannot in person, but I am rooting them into our family history.
I am both morphing and moving the traditions from my own childhood history, into the history of my own children. In this way, even though so many people have passed in body, they continue to surround us in spirit.
I can tell you with certainty that I DO NOT tell stories with the same hilarity that my Uncle Rick always did. No, the way that I tell them adds a philosophical spin and a certain sarcastic damper. My own kids, when I hear them recanting our stories to one another, brighten them with their own (different) energy….this is the beauty of oral tradition.
This is how our stories and our traditions move through the generations, necessarily evolving with the progression of time, yet still holding onto the wisdom and magic and TRUTH that anchors us into the value and beauty of each of our individual existences.
I’m a bit of a renegade, and I have very intentionally walked away from a lot of the dynamics that were prominent in my youth. I also am a very natural mother, and have hella Cancerian energy, which means that I’m also very connected to my family lineage. An appropriate counterbalance, I think.
I still do some of my family’s original traditions, and we’ve also created some of our own, morphing the essence of the previous ones into alignment with the “zoi” life that I’m endeavouring to both live out and build. Here are just a few of ours:
-Candle lit feast dinner in the dark on the night of Winter solstice, instead of the big family dinner on December 25th.
-Full out pyjama party on Christmas Day. Presents and stockings and movies and FUN the whole day long. All family members welcome. Chill vibes only. No real cooking, appies all the day long.
-Ceremonial candle lit during dinner when someone passes. We each (kids too!) share our favourite memories of the person, or Travis and I tell our kids about them if they don’t know them well. If possible, we try to cook a dish that reminds us of them.
-Birthday person gets a cake (any design of their choosing, made by yours truly), a special dinner (their choice), a super dope gift (their choosing), and a family activity together of their choice on their special day. There are lots of us here, and each one needs to know how much they matter to our community.
-Special time given to rest, recharge or whatever is needed during menstruation. The menstruating person also goes out and gets themselves a special treat. (We used to live by an incredible bakery and my husband used to always bring me home a piece of cake as a special treat…or maybe as a peace offering hahaha)
-Family burial (of course not in winter when the ground is frozen) when a pet dies. We gather flowers, choose a song to play, and share a memory about our pet around their resting place. Honouring the transition, and normalcy, of the passing between earth and spirit is important for us.
So how do you establish your own family traditions? Here are a few things to consider:
- Why does this matter? Why is this day, moment or event important for us? What value is being represented in this celebration? Where do/ did I experience love and/or transcendence in this memory? This is the anchor for the tradition, and will be what calls you back each time the tradition is to be repeated.
2. What practical, tangible things can you do to put you in remembrance with the history of this tradition? The symbols that you use will bring to the outside the inner reality of the experience. (For example, having a giant dinner represented unity, family pride and the value of sharing. The sharing of food was a symbol of these values)
3. What stories and memories can you share as you partake in this tradition together? What old memories do you carry, and what recent ones can you recall? How do those stories connect to the value and symbolism of the tradition? How can you merge the reality of the presence of the family members who are there in person, and those there in spirit?
The availability of books and modern day conveniences can sometimes get in the way of the oral traditions that ensured that stories, in the past, were carried on.
Maybe you’re not the “tell a story” type. That’s perfectly fine, there are many other ways to pass on your history.
Whoever you are, you are someone’s ancestor. Wild, right? And you are carrying stories and lessons and family truths within yourself. Don’t let your stories (or your granny’s) leave when you do.
As of late, I’ve been spending my days writing “efficient” articles for my blog, but today my heart pulled to share something from my own inner bank. I hope that as the holidays draw near, and the aches that come with some of your favourite people being in the Spirit world instead of at your dinner table, that you can draw them near through story, through song, or through writing.
What is your most favourite family tradition? Let me know in the comments!
Aja Celeste is a mom to 6 beautiful children and a twin mom! She is also creator and writer of That Zoi Life and a professionally trained Evolutionary Astrologer who has been doing astrology for 7 years. She is also a health care assistant, has a Bachelor of Ministry Degree, and is passionate about supporting people in conscious parenting. She also does Psychosomatics using Recall Healing.
Please contact her at [info@ThatZoiLife.com] if you would like to find out more about working with her.