Michel: Traditions solidify family, provide strong foundation

Published 12:07 am Saturday, April 11, 2015

If you ask me how much Easter candy I’ve eaten from my granddaughters’ baskets, I may just look at you and lie.

It’s those jelly beans and little chocolate candies, Sixlets, that I particularly fall prey to. I should have given everyone a fruit basket like the one my daughter Monique and daughter-in-law Ashley requested.

Actually, Monique asked for a fruit basket for herself and vegetables for her husband. If I had agreed to that, she would have asked for meat and seafood baskets for her kids. I drew the line with fruit.

Now I need to leave the candy alone and head outside to plant a few flowers, an activity I always save for after Easter.

Why? First of all, it’s just easier. Every Easter Sunday there is an egg hunt at my home. The children who once ran across the lawn in search of additional candy to add to their baskets have produced little ones eager to do the same. It’s more fun for everyone if I’m not worried about new flowers getting trampled.

The second and most important reason is because it’s what my Maw Maw Jello taught me. She was the person who instilled in me a love of all things outdoors.

In one of my earliest memories of her, she is kneeling next to me, showing me the difference between a weed and a flower. She taught me to throw used coffee grounds and egg shells on azaleas, to plant when the sun first begins its descent and to always wait until after Easter before adding new flowers to the garden. So I do. It’s tradition.

It’s also tradition that my daughter Elise and I plant at least one Gerber daisy, the favorite flower of my grandfather, who died four years before I was born. This week, in honor of the only person I still miss despite never meeting, I’ll plant a Gerber daisy.

Tradition. My family is full of them, and I only hope to add to our collection.

I believe traditions solidify the family and provide a firm foundation for future memories. Traditions are also avenues for preserving a family’s history.

I regret that I didn’t preserve my grandmother’s memories of her family by writing them down, and I hope my children do not make the same mistake. I hope they are paying close attention to the stories they are privileged to hear.

They have had access to my late father-in-law’s eye witness account of many of the battles of World War II and the childhood experiences of both sets of their grandparents.

My goal is to begin a new tradition of capturing these many, many stories in print.

J. S. Bryan said, “Many men can make a fortune, but few can build a family.”

If you visit St. Peter’s Cemetery this spring, you’ll find Gerber daisies at the grave of Louis and Mae Keller. They didn’t build a fortune, but a family rich with memories and traditions invaluable to me.

Ronny Michel may be reached at rmichel@rtconline.com.