I went to the viewing of a friend’s father last night at a local funeral home. When I arrived, the staff showed me into the room for the visitation, a room that was virtually empty. Just a son and a granddaughter. I wasn’t early. In fact, I deliberately came a little bit later.
As I sat and visited with them, a few others arrived and I suddenly found myself immersed in Jamaican culture. The conversation was filled with references to jerk seasoning, where to get the best jerk seasoning, plantains, rum, reggae music, Rasta, and cities and towns in Jamaica. As I listened and learned, it seemed like there was a running competition among them about who was still the most “Jamaican” among those who had lived in New York and now in Palm Coast for twenty or thirty years or more.
As they discussed the food they would be making for the next day, for family and friends to enjoy after the funeral, I started to wonder how much of the culture will pass to the next generation. The children of the deceased knew how to carry on the traditions of their parents, but I don’t think the grandchildren were prepared to do the same. They enjoyed that kind of food, but didn’t prepare it themselves. They enjoyed the music, but really didn’t listen to it. In just one generation, much of that would be lost, or be at best a distant memory.
I then began to wonder what others customs and traditions will be lost to the next generations. My wife makes a great pie crust. She’s taught my daughters how. But they don’t bake as often. Will that tradition be passed on? My dad did lots of gardening. I do quite a bit. My kids? Not so much. Christmas cookies, birthday cakes, greeting cards — more and more are store bought, not homemade.
What about church? Going to church was a staple for my generation. A custom for the next. Will it simply be a memory beyond that?
What makes a tradition worth holding on to? What traditions will our children and grandchildren assimilate into their lives? Which of today’s traditions will soon be gone, preserved only in photos and memories?