Wheatgrass Family Christmas: Planting the Seeds of Holiday Tradition
When I was asked to write this blog post about my holiday traditions, I wasn’t sure I wanted to. To me, family traditions are very personal and sentimental. I enjoy hearing other people tell me their traditions and routines, some of which have been passed down for generations, but I was protective of ours.
But the more I thought about it, the more I viewed it as a tribute to my mother, so hear it goes.
Each year, my mother planted wheatgrass in old shaving cups, and we watched them grow between Thanksgiving and Christmas. She never really explained the story behind the wheatgrass except to say she liked the way it looked. Every year of her life she would grow her wheatgrass. All I knew was I had to go the store and buy her the seeds before Thanksgiving. That was it! Wheatgrass. No fabulous story of what wheatgrass symbolized. No story of her parents growing wheatgrass. There wasn’t much for the rest of us to do except water the plants. But every year it happened, and every year one of her kids would ask her on Christmas day to remind us again why she grew the wheatgrass. She would say she just liked it—that’s it.
I have since searched the internet and have seen some explanations about growing wheatgrass, but they have nothing to do with our Portuguese culture. It was my mother’s thing. When she died thirteen years ago, a few weeks before Thanksgiving, one of the first thoughts I had was that I had to grow wheatgrass! I remember going to the local market, buying the seeds, and planting them in those old shaving cups. When friends visited, they wondered if I was growing wheatgrass to press for juice. “Nope,” I would say, “it is for Christmas and I have no idea what it means.”
I have since gotten married and have two young children. They now help me plant the wheatgrass seeds and water the plants in the same old shaving cups. Maybe my mom had no significant reason for why she did this, but my hunch is that subconsciously she knew she was starting a tradition that would have a bigger impact than any story behind the wheatgrass.
Again this year, my daughters will ask why are we planting wheatgrass, and I will say I don’t know why except that my mother did it and I like keeping the tradition alive. That will lead to wonderful stories of my mother, whom they never had a chance to meet. I continue to learn from and marvel at my mother’s wisdom of planting these seeds—not just the wheatgrass seeds, but the seeds in my mind that ensure that family comes first. She must have known that the point of the wheatgrass was not about the wheatgrass itself, but the seed to start conversations that led to stories, laughter, and strong bonds between us as a family. It was almost a sleight of hand: Look at the wheatgrass while I bring this family together in a way you never saw coming.
I have no doubt my kids will be growing wheatgrass when they are older, and they will initially have no idea why, but they’ll get it. They will have a smile on their faces and, I hope, incredible memories, as well as a foundation to create new wonderful memories with their families.
May all of you have a wonderful holiday season. I now have to run and buy some more wheatgrass.