Family Tradition Essay

Expository Writing                                                                                                 English 9

Family Tradition                                                                                                     Mr. Castellano

      Expository writing is writing that explains, sets forth, or defines a given topic.  Expository is the adjective form of the noun exposition.  Both words are derived from the verb expose, which means to make visible or known, to lay open, to put forth.  Basically, all the writing you do in school is – in one sense or another – expository writing.  You are always in the process of trying to explain something, whether it is your view of a particular work of literature, the causes of a particular historical event, the moral reasons to act in one way rather than another, the reasons a chemical reaction did (or did not) take place, etc.  In some ways, even a letter you write to a friend is expository.  Descriptive, narrative, persuasive, and literary writing (all of which we have done or will do this year) are each examples of expository writing.

     Your next writing assignment is to write an expository essay about a family or cultural tradition that is important to you.  Your focus can be an ethnic, cultural, or religious tradition; it can also be something that is important to your family, something that your family does ritualistically and thus has become a tradition.  It can be a tradition that relates to an important holiday, like Christmas or another holiday.  For example, you can write a great essay about the way you celebrate a particular holiday each year at your Grandmother’s home or how you always set up the Christmas tree the same way.  There might be some food or meal that is an important tradition for your family.  Of course, I would love this essay to be an opportunity for you to talk with your family about your traditions and to feel some pride in them.  But that is not required.  My sample essay is about the tradition in my family to go to Maine for a week every Summer: not a religious or cultural tradition, but something that has become very much a part of our family now – a tradition.

     Start thinking and brainstorming.  Talk to your family members; write things down.  I will give you time in class to work on the essay: about 20 minutes one day; we’ll see how much time we have after that.  This essay should be of typical length: 1-2 pages typed, 4-6 sides handwritten, double-spaced either way.  The essay is due Friday, 12 February; it is worth 100 points.  Do your best.

POSSIBLE TOPICS  (Of course, each needs to be refined into a thesis.)

- a food your family prepares a special way or for a special occasion

- a religious celebration or holiday you observe in a special way

- a special article of clothing you wear or that was made for you

- the way you celebrate certain birthdays, holidays, or weddings

- a way you recognize special times of year: marking the beginning of Summer, etc.

- songs that are special in your family

- a place you regularly go

- reading aloud together

I hope you get the idea!

Family Tradition – sample essay                                                                                     

      "It’s a tradition!"  That’s what my nephew says whenever we would do something – yet again – during our various trips to Maine over the past ten years.  And he’s right: the entire experience has become one extended tradition.  What started as an inexpensive way for my wife, children, and me to get away for a week or two when the children were little has now blossomed into a full-blown ritual.  My wife’s sister’s family first joined us for one weekend a few times; then they came once for a full week.  Now, for about the last five years, it has become an expectation that the two families will spend at least one week together somewhere in Maine.  Each time we go, more and more aspects of the trip take on ritualistic, almost sacred significance.  Indeed, going to Maine is a tradition, and one that we have come to cherish very much.

     Perhaps it is the ritualistic nature of children – their desire for consistency and repetition – that gives almost every activity the chance (or danger) of becoming a tradition.  In fact, I have come almost to fear doing something new because it will become yet another "tradition."  For example, about three years ago, we thought it would be fun to take the children to a drive-in movie.  It was fun, and we all enjoyed a rather silly movie (Master of Disguise).  But now the trip to the drive-in has taken on status, and we have no choice but to go – no matter how bad the film playing might be.  Our only hope of escaping is if the movie is rated "R."  When I think of our vacations in Maine, I think of the opportunity to get away and relax; the kids, however, love the anticipation of enacting their various traditions.  For them, I think it is half the fun of the vacation.

     Another important tradition