While we’re not a Jewish family facing a Russian pogrom in the early 20th century, I do feel tradition to be an important part of our family culture. Both my husband and I have somewhat strained long-distance relationships with our extended families, and the list of actual family traditions is rather short. With two adopted kids though, I want them to feel our family is as cemented as their biologically created counterparts, and since we don’t even have a shared collective cultural history to share, we have to make do with what we can.
Our daughter was ten months old at her first Christmas, and a month prior we forced her into a gorgeous infant dress, put on a couple of seasonally-colored ties, and headed off to the local Target for some family portraits. Initially, we though this would be a wonderful day-after-Thanksgiving family tradition, until we realized that coincides with another shopping tradition that makes going anywhere near retail outlets a Kamikaze mission. Over the years, we’ve maintained the tradition of having our holiday portraits taken, and we now have a half dozen framed 8x10s lining our upstairs hallway that chronicle the growth of our family over the years, including the addition of our son in photo three, the skyrocketing height of our daughter who now towers over most of her classmates, and the shifting fashions in eye wear on my husband’s face. This morning we headed off for our seventh annual trip to Target. The kids looked amazing, and they were so excited to show off their high fashion to the neighbors before we headed out.
We have a few other family dress-up traditions: Boston Pops on Christmas Eve Day, fancy brunch on Easter Sunday, dining out for each kids’ Adoption Days. I’m hopeful that over the years, these will provide a bedrock for our kids when they start to question the legitimacy of their family in relation to their peers, something that will be in the back of their minds when as adolescents they whine, “Why do we have to go to Target to take these stupid pictures?” Or maybe they’ll continue to get excited about dressing to the nines and hitting the town with their two dads.