A little more than twenty years ago, my grandfather announced to his gathered clan on Thanksgiving Day, that he wanted to start a new tradition. He thought that it would be nice if we sang a song for our grace before eating dinner.
He had a song all picked out and he had even made copies of the words for everyone, and had put them at all the places.
The words were:
Fill my house unto the fullest
Eat my bread and drink my wine
The love I bear I hold from no one
All I have and all I do, I give to you.
He sang the song himself so that we could all become familiar with the tune and then he led his children and grandchildren in singing the grace. Some of us were probably a little less graceful about it than others - public singing, even among family, can be a bit embarrassing. But it was Grandpa - and we were fairly used to him leading us in song at various events. So we sang.
The following year, Grandpa announced that we were starting a tradition and he led us in the song again.
The year after that the announcement was "We have a tradition in the family".
And thus a tradition was solidly embedded in our family.
I asked Grandpa to sing that song for the grace at my wedding. It was beautiful.
A few years ago my grandfather passed away. When Thanksgiving rolled around, we knew we had to sing his song. I don't think anyone managed to sing it without tears, but we sang it. And we sing it at every gathering of the clan.
We'll be singing it again on Thanksgiving. My son never knew his great-grandfather. But he knows the tradition of singing Fill My House before Thanksgiving dinner.
My grandfather got his wish - a tradition that would live on in the family, even after he was gone.