Saturday, November 30, 2013

Pros and cons of tradition according to a 12-year-old

In my years of mothering I've come to realize how much our kids appreciate traditions - at least some of them. They like to see the same routines and customs year after year. My oldest is probably stuck on traditions more than any of them. Even as a teenager, he always requested to make our annual trip to the pumpkin farm or to go to the Santa House like we've done every year since he was a baby. He enjoys looking forward to things like this.

One of our family traditions has been taking a family drive every year for a real Christmas tree. Initially we would drive out to a lot in Alsip near where my husband and his dad worked and pick out a tree from the Wisconsin tree farmer that hauled his trees down here to the suburbs. After a while he moved to a different lot in Crestwood, and we followed, but when he abandoned that one and the only locations left were about an hour away, we decided to find a new place after probably 15 years. That year we decided to cut down out own tree. The next year we found a place on the Munster/Highland border and we followed up with dinner afterwards at Texas Corral, a favorite of the boys mostly because you get to dig into a big bucket of peanuts and drop your shells wherever you wish. That became our new tradition and we've kept it up year after year.

Today we decided we would go pick out a tree in the afternoon and follow up with dinner. Well, this afternoon I had to run an errand and drove past our normal spot and didn't see the usual sign. I pulled in and there were no trees anywhere.

My 12-year-old was with me. He's Mr. Rule Follower. Mr. Practical. Mr. Logical. He questions why we get a real tree. "Mom, do you know how much money you'd save if you got a fake tree?" he asked. "You spend 80 dollars on a tree. That's $800 you spend in 10 years. You could buy one tree and save yourself all that money!"

I tried to explain that it wasn't about the money, it was about preference and tradition. Then he gave all the other pros of owning an artificial tree. "The needles won't fall off. You won't have to water it. It won't dry out. You won't have to clean up needles." He was trying hard to prove his point. I told him that he was correct on all counts, but that we get a real tree because it's tradition, even if it is expensive and messy. But I told him that when he grows up and has his own house, he'll get to decide if he wants to carry them on or start his own. "Do you want to have a fake tree instead of a real tree and root for the Yankees instead of the Cubs when you are older?" I asked him. "Yeah, what's wrong with that?" he asked. "Nothing," I said. "Nothing at all. It will all be up to you. You're your own person and you'll be able to decide." And I really wasn't sad about the thought of him dissing our family traditions, I was excited at the idea of him coming up with his own.