I once dated a guy whose entire family ordered the exact same entree as one another every single time they went out to eat together. Check it out.

The first time we went to dinner with his family I wasn't paying too much attention to what everyone ordered as the waiter went around the table. I'm sure I was too completely absorbed in saying the right things, not spilling my water all over the place, making sure none of the chips and salsa were stuck in my teeth, and all those important little details that make good impressions on parents. But when the server brought out our food it was glaringly obvious that my enchiladas in red chile sauce were not the right choice. Every single person at the table besides me was eating a chicken chimmichanga with cream sauce and cilantro garnish. Weird. That had to be a coincidence right? Did they notice I picked the wrong thing? I chose to ignore it.
A few months later we all went to dinner again, different restaurant. This time I paid attention, and this time every single person ordered the pork tenderloin. Was this some sort of a joke? Some strange family rule? I rapidly flipped through the menu, maybe that's the only thing they offer on Saturday nights? Or maybe they all have some kind of a food allergy to everything else on the menu? Oh, I know! It must be that entrees come cheaper in bulk?
After our third venture out to a restaurant with his parents and siblings I was about 80% convinced I was the weird one. I waited until last, and made sure to order whatever it was that was clearly the only choice according to everyone else.
When I finally got up the courage to ask if I was allowed to order something different, the guy just laughed and explained that they only went to a handful of restaurants any time they went out to eat together. They had been to them so many times by now that they had figured out what the very best thing was on each menu and so naturally everyone wanted it. Okay, more normal than I thought.

Photo by Missy Saunders
But the point is, people's family traditions are weird! And yours are weird too! You just don't know it yet until you've tried to impose them on someone else.

Evan and I are still working on traditions, since we're still in our year of firsts we haven't established a whole lot. We have a couple rules, like we do not say "your" family and "my" family. It is always "our" family, no matter who you are talking about. And we have some weird sayings, like for example, when you are saying something that is absolutely false and blatantly made up on the spot, you always finish your sentence with "I checked. Online." It helps your case a little. Another funny thing we do is play the sound effects game. This originated back when Evan and I had only known each other for a week. We had been on a date every day of course so I thought by date seven it was time for him to come and hang out with my family. We were having everyone over for game night so I thought it would be the perfect time for him to get to know the crew. I probably should have thought about the family traditions thing beforehand. But we are a games family, we like games. And not so much board games or card games, but more like games where you have to make a complete and total fool out of yourself. Like "extreme spoons" with the spoons upstairs and the cards downstairs or "colored eggs" where you all assign yourself an Easter egg color and get chased around by a knight in shining armor on an imaginary horse. Yeah I know, weird. Should have thought about that one. But I didn't.

So anyway this particular night we were playing the Pillow Game. Everyone sits in a circle and has a pillow on their lap. Someone in the middle is "it" and they have to close their eyes while we all rearrange seats. With their eyes still closed they then go and sit on the pillow on someone's lap and ask you to make a sound effect: the sound of an airplane taking off, the sound of King Kong jumping off the Empire State building, the sound of Aunt So-and-so doing such and such, etc. Then the person who is it has to guess whose lap they are sitting on by the sound effect. So fun, right! Haha seriously, try it. Hilarious. The problem is, I do not make sound effects that sound even remotely close to anything the person has described. I try of course, but every single time my cow comes out more like a goose and my 9 mm gun sounds a whole lot more like a clock. Evan thinks this is very funny. And now every time we go to Art City Trolley for dinner, we have to play the sound effects game right at our table and we laugh and laugh and our waiter thinks we're crazy. Well, we are.

And I remembered how crazy the family is that I grew up in this weekend when Evan and I went back to participate in all our family rituals before sending Christian off to another country. We definitely included a game, my baby sister taught us a game she called "Pooh" where she hid a stuffed Pooh Bear animal and turned off all the lights in the house and then she hid. We all had flashlights and we had to find the Pooh Bear before she tagged us or else we went to jail. Can I tell you that 9 adults running around in the pitch black looking for Pooh Bear and a shrieking 11 year old is the funniest thing I have ever participated in in my whole life? And somewhere between the years of 11 and 22 you lose that hide and seek skill because all of us ran into walls and fell over ottomans, and we had the bruises to show for it the next morning. We also took family pictures, and as my mom always insists, we took a pre-family picture picture in front of the fire place before we took the actual family picture with our photographer. Why? Because. That's what we do. After church we watched our routine DVD: Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, the musical with Donny Osmond. But we sing along and know every single word and occasionally include the hand motions as well. We did lots of other things including Hurricane Harbor and Blue Bell ice cream and all things Arlington Texas, Hutchinson style. And of course Evan is a good sport and played right along with every crazy thing. But on our flight back I started thinking how much fun I had had, and then about how strange it would sound to anyone else. But those are our traditions, and that's the stuff life is made of!

P.S. Don't forget to post your questions here! I'm doing a reply post on Monday so you still have plenty of time!


  1. please tell Evan to find a paid seminary job in Arlington so we can all move there together. please and thank you :)

  2. hahaha...JOSEPH! I remember that like it was yesterday! You are all pretty crazy, but such is life (well, life for cool people). Thanks for posting, Dear! Now, look at my blog because you will appreciate it.


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