Growing up, it was the Sunday dinners and shopping trips to the Italian market, where no one spoke English. I remember standing in line with our groceries and watching the numbers being rung up. I had no idea what the total amount came to, but fortunately, my grandmother understood it, as the cashier told her in Italian. These are the experiences that I remember most growing up. Our holidays were filled with relatives and friends, who could have been considered just as close as a relative. I learned many of the traditional Italian recipes from my grandmothers. Although, as I am getting older, I realize how much my grandparents kept our family together. Family traditions and the closeness that we once had are gone. The truth is that grandparents are what keeps the family together.
Grandparents have a way of bringing unity to the family. Either it is through daily phone calls to weekly meals, it was about spending time together. There is the chance to teach family values, instill ethnic heritage, and to pass on those traditions to family members so that they can be carried on. Grandparents have a significant role, as they provide a sense of identity. They give insight and they serve as a reminder of events that helped shape the family. Grandparents strengthen family bonds because we are frequently sharing traditions that help to build a stronger connection. Traditions provide an all-too-rare chance for face-to-face interaction, help family members get to know and trust each other more intimately, and create a bond that comes from feeling that one is part of something unique and special. They also offer comfort and security to the family.
The ever-changing world that we live in needs the comfort and security that grandparents are able to offer to families. Grandparents offer us constants that we can depend on. Either it is pasta on Sundays or fish on Fridays, no matter what it may be, we come to find comfort in the stability that those traditions will be there for us each week. We may not realize how those Friday night fish dinners instilled values within us, but they did since they instilled a culture within us. It added rhythm to our lives, and what I mean by that it was a cycle that we followed. Growing up, my grandmother made the traditional fish feast on Christmas Eve. It was hard work for her, but there was a cycle that brought my family excitement. A family tradition that had been passed down from prior generations to my grandmother. We looked forward to in anticipation, and look back on with satisfaction.
I’ve had a lot of great memories with my grandfather, as we walked often to McDonald’s for lunch, while my grandmother cleaned the house. Often times I wish that they were still here, as what I have learned is that our lives and childhood of the simple, everyday traditions like family dinners, holiday get-togethers, and bedtime stories are needed. These are the positive memories that are what is meant to be in helping to make us happier and more generous as we grow older.
Our past experiences with our grandparents can provide a myriad of positive benefits that can counteract loneliness and boost generosity towards strangers. To get the full benefits of nostalgia, though, we need to have a well-stocked “nostalgia repository.” What better way to fill that repository than by creating and maintaining meaningful family traditions!