To My Dear Sons:
As I was changing the house over after Pesach, it occurred to me just how many of our Jewish family traditions were perpetuated by my dear sons.
The liberating thing about being converts to Judaism is that we could pick and choose some of our minhagim, customs. Perhaps Abba and I would try something we thought might be fun or useful in cementing some concept in your rapidly-absorbing young minds… but it was usually you guys who caused it to become a tradition. What would I have done without you to remind me about our family traditions?
One year, I decided to put up funny “Keep out” signs, rather than just taping cupboards and drawers closed. As the following Pesach approached, I had forgotten about the signs, until one of you asked where they were. It took a few minutes to remember what you were talking about — and then I had to hastily recreate them (and save the file for next year) before candle-lighting on erev Pesach.
And then there was that Purim, when I surprised you (and horrified my health-conscious friends) by feeding you a special Purim breakfast. The tablecloth was a Garfield the Cat bed sheet; your breakfast was served in pots, with wiggly yellow plastic utensils; your cereal, served in Wheaties and Corn Flakes boxes, was every imaginable junk, to dazzle a small person’s candy appetite. Abba even replaced the orange juice with orange soda. Of course, it was just a whim; and I forgot about it the next year. Thankfully, one of you happened to mention how much you were looking forward to the “healthy” (wink, wink) Purim breakfast… and after much hard thinking, Abba and I remembered in the nick of time what you were talking about. Only once did we go away to friends for Purim. After the mommy thoughtfully provided a healthy breakfast of eggs and whole-grain cereal (since the day would naturally be dedicated to more junk food than a kid needs for an entire year), you informed us that we were never permitted to go away again for Purim.
Of course, you will remember many more unique Eastman traditions, and you will develop your own. But the main thing I want to remind you is to listen to your children. They will often be your harshest critics. But they will also let you know when you’ve scored big in the children’s tradition hall of fame.