by Susan Sage
“My family traditions have always been so important. You don’t understand.” Rachel faced her husband. “If we move … do you have any idea how far back they go?” Her breath caught in her throat as she stifled a sob.
“I know these are as meaningful to you as my family’s are to me. But changes happen.” Brian rubbed his hand across his dark, cropped hair and then over his beard. “Sometimes even well-loved traditions have to be released to make room for something new.” He settled a cap on his head and stepped to the door of their first apartment. “Like I said, you can remain here and enjoy your family traditions, or come with me, and we’ll build our own. But I don’t have a choice with this transfer.”
The door clicked as he pulled it closed. Rachel turned a slow circle imprinting the setting of their apartment on her memory. She sniffed trying to control the emotions threatening to spill out, then making a fast decision, grabbed her purse and keys and left the apartment.
As she stood by her Camry, a beloved gift from her father … her last gift from him … she rested her hand on the hood and nestled her head against it. “What am I going to do, Dad? This move will change everything.” When she lifted her head, she saw her husband sitting on his motorcycle, chin touching his chest. Then she noticed it. For Sale. Again, a gasp escaped her lips. His prize possession. He looked up. Their gazes connected. He pushed the helmet on his head, lowered the visor, started what he called his beast, and pulled away from the parking space and away from her.
Rachel got into her car and headed in the opposite direction down the familiar roads.
Moments later, she pulled in front of her grandma’s house and parked. As she got out of her car, she gazed at the wooden flower boxes hanging from each window of the small yellow house, its white trim still pristine. She stepped onto the stone pavers where she’d played hopscotch as a child. Her hand slid across the porch railing trying to trap its well-known sensation in her thoughts. Would this house or Grandma still be here when they returned? The beat of her heart increased, and she brushed her hands up and down her jacket covered arms.
The door opened and Grandma wrapped Rachel in her arms, then steered her into the decorated kitchen.
“You already put up your Christmas decorations.”
“Yes, always the weekend after Thanksgiving. But you know that.” Grandma set a cup of tea on the trestle table, the crossed legs scuffed with years of children’s feet swinging as their owners sat listening to family stories being told.
Rachel started talking and for the next hour poured out her heart to her confidant. “How am I to keep our family traditions alive? Brian knew this transfer would take us far away over the Christmas season. I just don’t understand.”
“Do you love him?”
Rachel’s head jerked up and she inhaled quickly. “Why would you ask me that?”
“Do you love him?”
“Of course I love him … but … but …”
Grandma reached her wrinkled, blue-veined hand over and took Rachel’s. “Do you know how traditions are formed?”
“I guess I never really thought about it.” Rachel dabbed a tissue below her eyes.
“They are started because of something that’s important to those doing them. We have a tradition of reading the story of Mary, Joseph, Jesus, and all the wonders of God’s gift because generations ago, a young couple decided that would be important to pass on to their family.”
“You mean Great-Grandma and Grandpa Swoyer?”
“Yes. They were the first to make a decision to celebrate the birth of our Savior. Ever since, each couple has added to what is done, and the heritage of traditions grew. But Rachel,” Grandma patted her only granddaughter’s hand again, “Christmas traditions are not as much about the act of doing something but about being together whether physically or in the heart. Maybe it’s time for you and Brian to take a bit from your traditions, which you hold dearly, and his, and start a few of your own. If you love him, go with him. Treasure what is important, and add to it. Our family traditions were never meant to be a burden but a memory of a family of love.”
Rachel looked in her Grandma’s eyes for several seconds. “I’ll miss baking with you.”
“Go find another young wife to bake with wherever you are.”
“What will you do?”
“Your brother is close by, and I adore his family. I’ll be fine.”
“I love you.”
“I know you do, and I love you. Now go. Find your husband. You decide together what traditions you keep and what you want to add to. Just celebrate God’s gift through each of them.”
Rachel hugged her grandma again and hurried home. She opened the door of the apartment and raced through until she found him in their room packing his belongings.
“We’re going to need more boxes for all of our stuff.”
“You’re coming? What about …”
“We’ll start a few traditions of our own wherever we are.” And she moved into the arms of her husband, her friend, her tradition partner.
About the Author
New to north Idaho, Susan Sage and her husband are enjoying getting to know the new area. She continues to work on her craft writing about God’s purpose and sovereignty in all aspects of life. She enjoys writing devotionals and flash fiction. She enjoys mentoring other writers who are new to the craft.
You can read Susan’s Flash Fiction stories on the 2nd Thursday each month here at Pandora’s Box Gazette.