When we moved from Louisiana to Tennessee last year, I was excited about the new adventures our family would have. Moving to a new place means exploring, learning about, and integrating into a new culture. Our family has developed new rituals related specifically to the special city we live in, like eating at our favorite barbecue spot and listening to blues music.
As we continue to develop new traditions, I don’t want our children to forget where they came from. I want them to stay connected to the culture that is so much a part of who we are as a family. If you have moved away from your original home to create a new home, perhaps you find yourself in a similar place. So, I am sharing some ways our family chooses to honor hometown traditions. If you are unsure of where to start, ask yourself how your people do three things: food, friends, and fun! Much of culture can be summed up in this!
Continuing to prepare cuisine from your city of origin is one way to keep your kids connected to your hometown. Cook with your kids, and talk to them about what you’re making and why you believe it’s meaningful for your family to eat it. For us, this means lots of Cajun cooking: red beans and rice, gumbo, jambalaya, and seafood. My girls love being in the kitchen and feel a sense of pride when they get to help cook. As an added bonus, when they contribute to helping make the meal, they actually eat better!
Who are your hometown friends and family? What kind of people are they? What are their values? Practicing hospitality is something important that I learned in my hometown that I want to teach our kids. We have friends over for dinner, care for those that are sick, and try to make people feel welcome when they are around us. My girls clean the house when someone is coming over and help set the table. They make cards for our sick friends and go with me to deliver meals. So far, no one has been scared away by our cooking or the overall level of noise we make, so I think we may not be doing so bad at this one.
What do your people like to do together? The answer to that one for us is “celebrate.” My hometown has a party for basically everything. Remember the holidays that were a big deal in your hometown, and continue to celebrate them after you’ve moved. Recently, we celebrated Mardi Gras by making a King Cake together. We listened to music from our hometown, and I told stories of going to parades, seeing floats, and catching beads. Since we are from a college town, we also did a lot of celebrating around sporting events. When our team plays now, we put on our LSU attire, make tailgating food, and watch the game together.