Family Traditions


Not all traditions look like a Norman Rockwell painting. Even more importantly, you never know what events are going to become traditions. Maybe you grew up with the entire family driving to Grandma’s for a particular holiday meal, but after you became an adult, that changed. Maybe Grandma went to Florida each winter, or maybe the family scattered well beyond driving distance.

Today, my older son and his wife invited us over for a marathon viewing of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy (extended version.) I’ve read the books perhaps 10 or 12 times since I first was introduced to Tolkien about 1966, so I’m the Tolkien fan. My older son and I used to spend weekend evenings watching movies at home. Videos fit our budget, and were time flexible. If laundry or cooking took longer than expected, no problem. So it seemed appropriate to do some holiday movie watching together.

Of course, we didn’t just sit there staring at the TV screen. There were sandwiches, gyros and pizza for lunch, cheese fondue and cookies for a snack, as well as a spaghetti dinner. We all peeked at tablets and smartphones as necessary; those who aren’t diehard Tolkien fans did so for diversion, those who are checked various websites for clarification. Why wasn’t Galadriel’s ring corrupted the way the Ring Wraiths were? Did Peter Jackson, the director, show up in a bit part?

Cole was in charge of noting all the “Wilhelm” screams; these are screams originally recorded for an old movie in which a soldier gets bitten by an alligator; later it was used when a character named Wilhelm was shot with an arrow (hence the name). Since then it has appeared in over 200 films. Each of the Ring trilogy films use it at least once.  Cole dispatched his duties not only impeccably but with both style and grace.

We played “pass the baby” so that whenever Lily needed attention, burping, changing, rocking, or whatevering, the pleasure was shared among all participants. However, I have to mention that among all participants, I was the only one whose shirt was color coordinated with her outfit. (just saying.)

Film festivals could become a family tradition. “Lord of the Rings” is probably the l-o-n-g-e-s-t movie series to watch. There’s also “Back to the Future” and “Indiana Jones” for future years, both of which are of more reasonable durations. “Star Wars” IV – VI is a totally different movie than I – III so there’s no need to watch all six in a single sitting.

Family traditions rise and fall. The key is coming up with a great excuse for family to get together and enjoy each other’s company, food, laughter and just being family.

Anne & Paul – great start!

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