We love the magic of Hershey--the lights, the chocolate, Santa (of course!) and the rides. Then one year, my best friend Karen and her family joined us. A new tradition evolved. We missed out on our Adkins-Johnston Hershey Park weekend last year because of the pandemic. This year we are back at it.
I think traditions are so important. Traditions give us things to look forward to; they give us the structure to remember the moments that are important and to me, traditions make order out of the chaos that this world is; especially now in this pandemic world.
When I ask my kids what they love about traditions, they each had the same answer: spending time together with people you love.
They are pretty smart, those three.
When I think of the Christmas traditions of my childhood, each of those experiences is all about the people. I loved Christmas Eve as a kid--it was the same each year: a brand-new dress and dress coat, clam chowder and sandwiches before church, singing in my church choir, driving around to look at Christmas lights after church and then, staying up until midnight with my Dad to wrap Christmas gifts. When I was little, I would be unable to sleep out of excitement-so the tradition was I had to wait until 6 am to get my stocking and no peaking at the tree until everyone was awake. The best part of all of this was that we were together--it was our family eating togehter, getting dressed in our best for church, looking at lights and then having that late night time with Dad to listen to his stories of childhood Christmases and Santa and magic and wonder.
Our family traditions are different now--church, a mini-seven fishes feast, family pajamas and early to bed. Mike and I stay up late wrapping. In the morning, no one leaves the second floor until we've got our cameras ready to capture the moment they see the tree. But we are together--tradition binding us together and making Christmas special.
Hershey is like this--we are together. My kids get to be with people they think of as family--as they should--because they are family. I get to see my godson Andrew--seeing him mature and still be sweet is such a gift. Just a few years ago, none of kids were roller coaster ready; now four of the five are ready to roll and I know the youngest is not far behind.
I know someday we might not have this tradition--our kids will grow, our interests will change, new traditions might edge this out--and that is okay, I think. Traditions are special because they evolve and grow, just like our kids. And we will find new special ways, to be together.