My “Resolution”? Keep Tradition Alive and Kicking

The “New Year’s Resolution” is more popular than ever. I myself tend to not put a lot of faith into them, however. They always begin with the best of intentions, but soon crash, burn, and flame out quickly.

You see the same type of resolution, year in and year out. Many people pledge to lose weight, get back in shape, organize their lives.

A couple of months later, that treadmill serves as the prettiest and priciest clothes hanger you’ve ever owned.

(Disclaimer: Because of some feedback from my doctor, 2012 is the year Joey pays far more attention to his health and general fitness. But I don’t own a treadmill.)

My resolution would be to strengthen a habit I already have: keep traditions,  the ones I was fortunate enough to experience growing up, alive and kicking.

Ideally, I would be doing this just for my children, so they could get a taste of the very good life, but if I’m honest with myself…I’m doing it for my own benefit, as well. I never want to forget where I came from.

My old Italian ladies aren’t around anymore. The rituals and methods they practiced survive only if we keep them breathing by our active participation. That guardian of the old school traditions that I want to be? Playing at full strength here in 2012.

Everyone has cultural traditions that bring them closer to their roots, and to that warm, fuzzy feeling you had when you were a kid. I recommend they be part of your list of “resolutions”. Here’s just several ways I’m going to carry them out in the coming year:

In The Kitchen  My wife and I are no slouches in this area, but for Christmas we received some beautiful cookbooks from some very thoughtful people (including my wife’s brother and his girlfriend, my “Outlaw” :)) that are going to allow us to ratchet up our knowledge of traditional Italian peasant dishes. Many of these recipes are what I ate growing up, and are still a staple of our diet now.

At Table  Eating together as a family has always been a high priority after the kids came along, just like I did when I was young. The table is also where I shared great coffee with my immigrant grandparents in past years, and my wife and I still make espresso in a stainless steel pot every morning to continue the ritual. It’s the best.

In The Vineyard  The house where my grandparents used to live has two ample grape arbors that yield the best grape jelly you will ever taste. Making the jelly from those grapes is hard work, but we love to do it to this day. We still have access to the grape vines, so we’re hoping 2012 brings another sweet batch.

At The Holidays  On Christmas Eve years ago, my family would always serve very traditional fish and seafood dishes to celebrate the holiday. It’s a tradition we’ve let slip recently. I felt insane jealousy (and hunger) when Vince posted pictures of a seafood feast at his house this past Christmas Eve. My wife Suzanne and I have pledged to bring this back home in 2012, and host a traditional Italian Christmas Eve dinner with our relatives.

In My Mind  With today’s need for instant updates and instant gratification and instant everything, it’s little wonder your mind races through the day. My girls (meaning my grandmother and my godmother) had a simple way to quiet their minds—they said prayers. And I think they were on to something, so I’m doing this more lately. Whether it’s prayers, meditation, or just five minutes in the day to sit and be quiet without interruption, the result is clear: it’s definitely good for body, mind, and soul.

Yes, I’m going to exercise more (Had a great workout before writing this) and eat my vegetables, but if I can keep a candle of tradition flickering within my family, 2012 will be a prosperous and very happy New Year.

Photographs of 14th Street courtesy of Gabrielle DeGiorgio

What are your resolutions this year? Is tradition a part of it? Start a discussion in the comment section, and feel free to tweet and/or share. You know someone that needs a little kick in the “traditions”!

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6 thoughts on “My “Resolution”? Keep Tradition Alive and Kicking

  1. Hey Joe,

    First of all, love the photos!

    I think keeping traditions going is very important. It’s the kind of thing kids will remember when they grow up and look back, plus it reminds them of their heritage.

    I’ve learned to love working out, seriously 🙂 I do own a treadmill and actually get on it first thing every morning. I do this much more now as running on hard pavement has just killed my knees. The treadmill is much better. And a big yes to just sitting in silence and even practicing a few breathing techniques. It really does help in many ways.

    One habit I want to maintain is focusing on one task (only one) at a time. No more running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off.

  2. I love your focus on tradition. Coming from a Mediterranean background I understand the importance of family, tradition and the simpler life (I’m Maltese). There is a lot we can learn from our ancestors and I love how the Italians really celebrate food and attempt to be minimal in their approach.

    There are often times where I will have an anti-pasto plate for lunch with some meat, cheese, bread and olives. No fancy restaurant food… but the flavours are just amazing.

    1. Anthony, thanks for reading, and very much agree…the simpler traditions that we can follow bring a little sanity to things. I love the concept of “tradition” no matter how many leaps and bounds we make into the future!

      Great antipasto selection! That’s the perfect lunch, in my opinion!

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