She: I like traditions, but it’s tough to have many when you are nothing-ish and I’m Jewish-ish. I definitely think about it more this time of year.
Z: We have our traditions. Like, how whenever you ask me to take out the garbage, I pretend not to hear you.
She: I was thinking of something a little more festive.
Z: I could wear tinsel and pretend not to hear you.
She: What? I can’t hear you.
Z: That’s because of the strings of popcorn I’m wearing.
She: I was so excited to marry a gentile, with the promise of years of Christmas trees and festive decorations. Growing up, my family tradition consisted of not having a tree and not putting up lights.
Z: You got Chinese food and movies.
She: Only the years when we weren’t drooling over our non-Jewish cousins’ plethora of gifts. I wanted the fancy tree.
Z: We do that.
She: We do Charlie Brown trees.
Z: Which is our tradition.
She: I guess so.
Z: And we hang up stockings every year. Although, do you think it means anything that our stockings say “Koss,” “Zak” and “Mom” on them?
She: It means that “Leslie” didn’t fit in the space where we wrote our names, and that you took advantage of your Jewish-ish wife’s stocking decorating inexperience to make her look like the fuddy-duddy.
Z: And what could possibly be more traditional than that?
She: I don’t think you have a real clear understanding of the word “tradition.”
Z: I think your use of the word “fuddy-duddy” explains it all.
She: No. Tradition is not fuddy-duddy. Tradition is something that brings you comfort, and keeps you rooted.
Z: But too much tradition can prevent you from finding something new, or can oppress you into empty ritual.
She: And too little tradition can leave you flighty and without meaning. Not to mention that it’s something our child seems to crave.
Z: Koss does love traditions, the few that we have.
She: He likes that you read The Night Before Christmas every Christmas Eve.
Z: And he usually seems happy and proud of our silly holiday cards instead of mortified.
She: He’s still pre-teen. His future is sure to be full of mortification.
Z: I do have a long and proud tradition of trying to mortify him.
She: Which he seems oddly impervious to. I’m a little sad that you haven’t continued your tradition of dressing in plaid and sandals with black socks every Father’s Day.
Z: I only have so much plaid, and it wasn’t getting the response I was looking for. Maybe I’ll reintroduce it in junior high school.
She: He’ll love that I’m sure. You and Koss do have the tradition of eating sugar cereals on your birthday.
Z: Which is a carryover from my own family’s tradition. That’s deep and historical. We’re a very sophisticated people.
She: Otherwise you’d eat Cocoa Puffs on a more regular basis.
Z: Cocoa Puffs without meaning are empty calories.
She: My family has a tradition of celebrating their birthdays for the entire birth month.
Z: I’m still not sure how that tradition hasn’t translated to you celebrating my birthday for a whole month.
She: It’s tradition. You wouldn’t understand.
Z: And we got married. There are not many things more traditional than that.
She: Sure — except that we got both of our fathers ordained out of the back of a Rolling Stone and had them perform the ceremony.
Z: That’s a good mix, then. We take the traditional, and we make it our own.
She: I guess. I still feel like it would be nice to have a few more traditions — even if they are ones that we discover ourselves.
Z: How about we start with me getting a full birthday month, too?
She: Easy there, Tradition Boy. We don’t have to go crazy all at once.
Z: Yes, dear.
— Share your family traditions with She and Z by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.