Family Tradition

Family Tradition:

“The family has had a tradition of having the children attend dinner parties.  After dinner, the youngest child was passed around the table from lap to lap.  As each adult was visited, he or she had to continue a story directly from the parting words of the previous adult.  Each adult made the story as difficult to continue as possible.  (This was actually true in the era of FZO.)”

This emailed description of an older LeCates family tradition elaborates on a type of storytelling ceremony for the children in the family.  My family has always enjoyed dinner parties as long as I can remember, and as long as my father can remember.  My family would often invite over our extended family or family friends in the area to enjoy dinner and cocktails for an evening in order to relax on the weekends.  As my father describes above, when he was a child, his family was in the habit of continuing a tradition of allowing the children to attend the dinner parties, and using them as a way of telling stories to provide amusement at the end of the evening.

When I was little, I had been told that children are not generally allowed at dinner parties, and they are mainly a way for adults to interact, communicate, and enjoy themselves.  So when I heard about this older tradition that I had never taken part in, (The youngest living member to act in it was “FZO,” as stated above, a nickname for my second oldest sibling and brother Chris) I was slightly surprised.  Children are often looked down upon as being uncivilized, loud, obnoxious, and particularly disrupting when it comes to mature adult gatherings.

This tradition, however, uses children in a way that allows them to participate while still having an amusing time.  By passing the child around the table to each guest in turn, the child delights in taking part in the activity as opposed to being rejected for the night, and the adults get to take part in entertainment.  By including the concept of each individual continuing the story (Most likely with a sentence or two), and with increasing difficulty, the adults devise a way for them to also be entertained by each other in a more mature fashion that still involves the children, than if they simply told a normal story.  The adults are given the opportunity to outwit and stump each other, and the child gets to participate.

Since it is also clear that since this tradition usually comes at the end of the night, one can assume that a substantial amount of alcohol had been consumed throughout dinner.  This adds to the comedy of the tradition and the humor that comes from sharing ridiculous stories.  In involving only the youngest child, the adults don’t have to bother with either holding another heavy human being, or creating embarrassing innuendos that an older child might be appalled by.   Furthermore, by continuing this tradition at every dinner party, the adults of the family create numerous amusing stories which involve much variation and humor.  Though I never got to partake in this ritual, it is obvious that has been an amusing and well-received LeCates family tradition.