Despite the fact that many of our grandparents were immigrants or first generation Americans, we celebrated no ethnic traditions. A few years ago I decided to connect the boys with a part of their heritage while introducing the basis of Lent. Although we are a church family, the vague pre-seasons of Lent and Advent tend to get lost in the busy-ness of life. A little research (thank you, Google!) offered a British tradition of Pancake Tuesday on the day before Ash Wednesday, pancakes being a way to consume the sugar that was to be denied the next 40+ days.
The first year we were joined by English-language-limited Middle Eastern neighbors as we tossed, flipped, carried, and consumed pancakes in the yard while inadvertently feeding Jigga. We often wondered what these children told their parents about this strange American custom. Different children have joined us over the years. This year the party of six included veterans and newbies all of whom accepted the premise with minimal dismay. I had forgotten how long it takes to cook pancakes as well as how many cakes teenage boys can consume. The entire festival lasted only 45 minutes followed by a 30 minute cleanup but exhausted me!
We will continue this weak acknowledgement of a sacred Christian season as long as the boys want. Family traditions with their predictability and surprises tend to be the glue that holds families together offering elements for conversations for a lifetime. Today’s families need all the glue they can get.