This post is dedicated in honor of my dearest Mother, may she live and be well until 120, who made and makes everything from a car ride to a trip to the supermarket a joy and an experience to always remember.
Ever since I was little, my family always started off our family trips the same way. We put on our seat belts, pulled away and began to sing. [Yes, even before Tefillat HaDerech (the prayer for a safe journey), we sang as soon as the ignition purred.]
THE TRAVEL TRADITION
We gotta get goin', where are we goin', what are we gonna do?
We're on our way to somewhere, the three of us and you
What'll we see there, who will be there, what'll be the big surprise?
There may be caballeros with dark and flashing eyes
We're on our way (we're on our way)
Pack up your pack (pack up your pack)
And if we stay (and if we stay)
We won't come back (we won't come back)
How can we go, we haven't got a dime?
But we're goin' and we're gonna have a happy tiiiiime ...
Cuanto la gusta, la gusta, la gusta, la gusta, la gusta, la gusta, la gusta
Cuanto la gusta, la gusta, la gusta, la gusta, la gusta, la gusta
(You can even hear Carmen Miranda and the Andrew Sisters sing it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioxMX9r97bs)
Cuanto la gusta, and off we went. No song, no trip. Well, let's say, no trip was official until we sang our travel song.
Then halfway through our trip, we had our halfway-through-our-trip song.
Wherever we go, whatever we do, we're gonna go through it together.
We may not go far, but sure as a star, wherever we are, it's together.
Wherever I go I know he goes. Wherever I go I know she goes.
No fits, no fights, no feuds and no egos, Amigos, together!
Through thick and through thin, all out or all in.
And whether it's win, place or show.
With you for me and me for you,we'll muddle through whatever we do.
Together, wherever we gooooo.
(You can hear Bernadette Peters sing it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvZc_XHezL8&feature=related)
Would you believe I sing the same songs at exactly the same moments of my family trips with my own children! It's nice to share these memories and funny traditions with our children.
B"H, as faith-filled Jews, we transmit many traditions and practices to our next generation. That's how we give continuity to our eternal people and make sure our heritage continues on.
THE HAVDALA TRADITION
After havdala (prayer ending the Sabbath) every week, each member of the family puts his arms around the family-member standing on each side of him, and with link arms or in a hug, we sing together Eliyahu HaNavi (one day Elijah the prophet will come and herald the Messiah), Shma Yisrael (our belief that G-d is Our L-rd and He is One) and Ani Ma'amin (our belief that the Messiah will come one day soon).
[My brother and I began singing these three songs after havdala when we were young :) at the home of our friends Yisrael and Leah Neuberger (http://www.tosinai.com/). I think their family began singing these prayerful-songs in the home of Rabbi Meshulem (o'h) and Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis (until 120). This tradition has become part of our lives, as it has become part of the lives of so many others.]
We have never said good-bye to our beautiful Shabbat and hello to a new week without Eliyahu HaNavi/Shma/Ani Ma'amin. And we've had the opportunity to be in our children's homes for Shabbat, and at havdala, they sing this medley too. It is a great feeling - one that says, "We continue on!"
The children may be away from us, but they're still close - ending Shabbat just as we have almost all our lives.
When we pass along our silly/touching/funny/serious/quirky family customs to our children, we are passing along part of our/our parents'/our grandparents' personality to our children and hopefully to theirs.
Our funny songs or bad jokes or little family traditions are another aspect of who we are, where we're from - a piece of us!
Share the family customs and traditions, no matter what they are. Put a bow around the past and the future with a little ditty or a family memory, and enjoy your family times together for many years to come.