When I asked my youngest son what he wanted to do this summer, he responded, “San Francisco.” When I asked why, he replied, “Tradition.”
I hadn’t thought about it in awhile but he was right. Going to my hometown of San Francisco at least once a year was a tradition in our family. We used to go over the holidays as the kids were growing up but now we went over the summer or between Christmas and New Year’s. But we’d been so many times and our older two children had their own busy lives that I wasn’t really thinking about it as much anymore.
Traditions can take many shapes and forms and their relevance in people’s lives cover the spectrum. Are traditions important to you? What kind of traditions did you have growing up? What traditions are important to you now?
I used to think traditions were a little more old-school – important to older generations that often had rituals around religious events. My children were not brought up with traditional religion so those type of rituals were not a part of our routine. But as my son made clear with his request on visiting San Francisco, traditions can look like many things. It’s the routine and the memories that set it apart.
It’s funny but there are even traditions within traditions. One thing we like to do when we go to San Francisco is visit the Buena Vista Cafe. It is iconic San Francisco – Irish coffees dramatically prepared at a bar that hasn’t changed in decades overlooking the water and Hyde Pier. My husband and I had discussed not going there this trip because we thought it was kind of boring for kids. But as we were walking nearby, our son requested that we go in. We said, “Let’s pass,” but he insisted. Not because he could have an Irish coffee at 16 but again because of “tradition.” We were stunned (and he had fries).
Some of our other traditions within our SF tradition:
Dim Sum at Yank Sing – an absolute MUST according to both our son and our daughter, who joyfully joined us on this traditional trip.
Lunch at the Slanted Door, a wonderful Vietnamese restaurant in the Ferry Building that we first tried last year and that my foodie son couldn’t wait to revisit.
Fisherman’s Wharf and the iconic African Bushman. I don’t want to ruin it for you if you don’t know what I’m talking about. Visit SF and you’ll find him. He’s been around for years.
Ghiradelli Square and the ice cream shop. This year we went twice! It’s hard to describe but this place smells like San Francisco – the years of tradition, of family business, of smiles and happiness on the faces of everyone there – including all of the employees.
Visiting my best friend and her family, especially her two wonderful twin boys. That was the #1 activity on the top of my son’s list. As we have for the past few years, we met them at The House of Air, a trampoline park in the Presidio and overlooking Chrissy Field. Although our visits are always too short, my best friend and her family are family to us and I am so grateful that this is meaningful to our children.
Walking through Chinatown. It doesn’t really change from year to year, but it’s a must. It is the most authentic Chinatown in any city we have ever been to and we couldn’t imagine missing it.
This most recent trip to my beloved SF gave me a glimpse into how the traditions that we created in our own family (intentionally or not) have made a difference for our children. It has me thinking about what our other traditions are and how to keep them alive. I am grateful to our youngest son who helped remind me of the importance of our family traditions and for a wonderful long weekend spent together in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.