Starting and Ending Traditions
For 40 years, my family hosted a pancake breakfast on New Year's Day. We had over 100 people come by throughout the morning for pancakes with blueberry sauce and homemade sausage. Growing up it was the can't-miss way to start the year for all my friends. Even as people grew up and moved away, we'd always come back for pancakes. For some of my family's friends, it was the only time a year we saw them - but they knew, the Ellwoods would be there on January 1st.
The first pancake breakfast took place when my parents were dating in Omaha, NE. There were only a few people there, but it was the beginning of something fun. Growing up we used to say,
"The first time is for fun, the second time is a reunion, and the third time is a tradition."
And that is what happened. From 1978 on, my parents served friends pancakes every year and carried the tradition forward in 1985 when we moved to Texas. As our family grew, so did the number of friends and their families that we invited. But with the growth in attendance, the delegation of responsibilities spread from my parents to me and the rest of my siblings. We became a pop-up family-run restaurant for the day.
There was always talk of "who will continue the tradition" as my siblings and I got older. But with three out of four of us moving away from the North Texas area, my parents decided that the 40th pancake breakfast in 2018 would be the final one that they hosted. Another thing that my Mom always told us,
"Quit while everyone is still having fun."
So, this year, while we will not be hosting a pancake breakfast for hundreds, I know that myself, each of my three siblings, and my parents will all be having pancakes wherever we are in the world today. Traditions like this don't happen all the time, but when they do, they are so much fun to share.