Home Commentary Cycles of Tradition and Gratitude

Cycles of Tradition and Gratitude


Mary Quilici Aumack
Executive Director
Catholic Community Foundation of Santa Clara County

It’s been quite an eventful couple of weeks for me.

The first full week of September, I turned 60. There, I said it. My secret is out. With all the concern over ageism, sometimes people are cautioned not to state age. That’s just never been my way. At each milestone birthday, I’ve recognized that it’s simply not possible to be more blessed than I, and I am grateful.

That said, milestone birthdays provide an opportunity to reflect on life accomplishments, circumstances, gifts and challenges.

If you read my column now and again, you’ll know that I marvel at my gift of faith. It’s perplexing to me that I’m the lucky one in this regard. I count this “heaping portion of grace” among my many gifts, and I celebrate.

I’m Italian, and know a thing or two about gifts and celebration. I’m noted for hosting parties and generally gathering people around an event, a need, an idea, a milestone, a tradition. Every celebration is imbued with a sense of gratitude:

  • I’m grateful during the Holy Days for the birth, death and example of Jesus.
  • We’re grateful for a child graduating from eighth grade, high school, college.
  • We’re grateful for the grace of the sacraments in the life of our family.
  • We’re grateful for the life and legacy of a departed loved one.
  • We’re grateful for all gifts, tangible and intangible, that enrich our lives and allow us to more effectively meet the needs of our neighbors.
  • We are grateful for our traditions, that bind us and invite us to continue.
  • We are fed.

A week before my birthday we attended the wedding of the daughter of dear friends. I have always referred to her as my “other daughter,” and our daughter was a bridesmaid. This was a broad-based celebration: love, family, friends, sacrament, joy. This is “the family that we choose,” friends for decades, sharing in this sacred celebration. I was fed.

On my birthday, I went to see my mom. She is 90 and is now in hospice care. Before you say “oh no,” please know that this is a wonderful, caring, comfort-giving service, and is for me another source of deep gratitude. I showed my mom pictures of the wedding. She recognized several people. When I showed her a picture of the mother of the bride, my dear friend, she said, “Sheryl looks pretty good!” That made me smile. I was fed.

I once heard this definition of a tradition: Something you do once, and like so much that you repeat over and over. All of our traditions, whether they be parties, travel, award ceremonies, or the great rituals of our faith, invite continuance.

This continuance is enabled through the planning of your legacy. How do you want to be remembered? What traditions do you want to support FOREVER? Maybe it’s scholarship to help other families receive the deep benefits of a Catholic elementary school education. Perhaps you’d like to help provide “seed money” for the charitable works of the bishop, or your pastors. In this way, you provide FOREVER VALUE for the ministries that have supported your family, continuing deep traditions.

Over these past days, I’ve experienced broad reasons for gratitude, steeped in tradition and inviting the opportunity to look forward to the next time, to be fed.
For Doug and me, our legacy will be built around our faith traditions, our parish, Catholic schools, and Catholic Charities. Through this, others may be fed, literally and spiritually.

I encourage you to explore your thoughts on legacy, and to give me a call (408) 995-5219 if you’d like to share ideas (it’s probably obvious that I have quite a few in this area).

Thank you for ALL that you do. I am grateful.