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Family traditions are the ties that bind us

Some family traditions carry on throughout our lives without us even realizing it.

Some family traditions carry on throughout our lives without us even realizing it.

These little practices come from long ago and few even know where they came from originally. My family had a couple that I can’t stop myself from doing, even now. I think they are the things that bind us together no matter where we are in the world and, in this month of Thanksgiving, it seems a good one to share.

If you ever happen to notice me honk my horn as I leave a place, it’s a habit that came from a twist on the old “never go to bed angry.”

In my family, it was important to leave the house with a friendly honk of the horn to let people know that, no matter what had just occurred between us, we loved one another.

Even before I had my driver’s license, I noticed my parents doing it and, as I did more leaving and driving, the practice was explained to me.

The best (and most loving) part of that was apparent after there had been some sort of disagreement between us.  Yes, there was a honk of the horn as someone left the scene but it was the teeniest beep possible, one that likely only the person in the car could hear, BUT a horn had been honked nonetheless so “officially” all was OK between us (even when I was still pretty mad!).

It was always reassuring to hear that little honk, that little auditory hug, and know that, if anything untoward happened, we had still “shown the love.”  It might be called noise pollution now but I still do it.

Another cool “good luck” sort of habit we all have is crossing our fingers and tapping them together before anyone leaves on a trip somewhere.

This was reserved for times when there might be “danger” involved, such as a long car trip or, in my case, another zany adventure.

Where in heaven’s name did that come from?  Well, my dad was a pilot in the Second World War and, throughout his tours of duty, apparently he always had his fingers crossed on the steering mechanism to “ensure” a safe return to base.  And, he did return safely, sometimes in spite of some amazing escapes.  So, he always had his fingers crossing on the steering wheel of the car, whenever we went anywhere, for the same reason, he told us.  Somehow, the crossed fingers tapping has continued between us and, if we can’t be side-by-side to tap our crossed fingers, we tap them on the telephone speaker for each other!

Our kids do it, too, whenever someone leaves on a trip as a “be safe, we are waiting for you to return” message.

Here’s one I never really understood. Whenever there was a quarter moon (a new moon), the adults in the family would acknowledge it as a new opportunity by turning around, bowing three times to the moon, jingling the change in a pocket and saying “rabbits.”  I have tried to figure it out and I think it has something to do with having good luck during the time the moon is becoming full but I really don’t know for sure.  However, it was a ritual I watched every month for all of my youth and I still think of it when I see that crescent.

There are unique family habits that likely everyone has and may not be aware of but they are surely some of the important ties that bind.

Colleen Crossley is a freelance columnist with the Tribune/Weekend Advisor.