Roses are red, violets are blue…


So began the first line of at least 50% of every greeting card I ever wrote. Yes, I wrote greeting cards. Birthday, anniversary, Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, graduation — you name the life event and I created a greeting card for it. With artwork!

Oh, I did not do this professionally. You see, we have a long-standing tradition in my family that started with my parents when I was just old enough to draw. It has been passed to all of my siblings. It has been passed to my children and to my nieces and nephews. We make all of our cards. You cannot buy a card for Father’s Day. You make a card for Dad. FYI – I was making cards for my Dad right up until he passed away. That is right – a 52 year old CEO was making cards for his Dad (and is still making cards for his wife and his kids).

As I was packing up my Father’s belongings shortly after he died, I came across a dozen shoeboxes in his closet. They contained all of the cards he had received from all of his children over the years. I sat down and read through them. I don’t know which won out, the tears or the laughs, as both were in abundance that afternoon. I actually came across a letter that Dad had saved that I wrote to him on Father’s Day in 1988! It became the centerpiece of my eulogy at his funeral.

I cannot wait for my first card from Penelope, my granddaughter. It will begin the 4th generation of Marcon card making. Hallmark has nothing on us!

The recent passing of my Dad has caused me to reflect on many other traditions. They are the foundation of a family, a culture, a country, a religion. Traditions ground us. Traditions teach us. Traditions inform us of the past. Some are corny. Some are meaningless. Some are passed down for generations. Some are relatively new. But, all of them, combined, make us who we are. Here are some of mine…

Michael Marcon Tweets: We have pizza every Friday.

I don’t know where / how this one started, but don’t try to stop it now. Sausage and pepperoni — unless it’s Lent, then just cheese.

Michael Marcon Tweets: Mary makes cinnamon rolls for breakfast on Christmas morning.

Speaking of Christmas, our tradition is also to watch It’s a Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve (is it a tradition if the entire country does the same thing?) and open one present, which is picked by Mary.

Michael Marcon Tweets: We have a family reunion every year.

For the past 30 years, we have created a tradition of a hosting a family reunion each July in our summer spot of Door County, WI (aka “heaven on earth,” at least in the summer). Some years, we get over 100 people for the three-day weekend celebration. Other years, we have less than 30. Some years, we reminisce about loss. Other years, we celebrate the joy of new additions. This summer, we will do both. We BBQ, karaoke, play golf, ride go-karts, go fishing, boating, moped riding, horseback riding, and celebrate the strength, support, and love of a family created by two immigrants from Italy more than 90 years ago.

Michael Marcon Tweets: We work and we pray.

Sometimes in the same morning. As a reader of Michael Marcon Tweets, you are aware that faith is a major part of my life and upbringing. You also know that I was instilled with a work ethic passed from my grandfather to my father to me. Hopefully, I have instilled it in my children. My grandmother instilled my faith tradition. Nonna would get up early every morning and place all of my newspapers in my pushcart in advance of my morning paper route. The last stop on my morning route was the rectory of our local parish. After I finished delivering papers, I would stay at church to perform as an altar boy at the 6:30 a.m. Mass. Nonna would always be in the first pew. She would walk home with me after Mass. While we walked, she held her rosary. I was amazed that she could walk, talk, and pray at the same time! That rosary is now one of my most cherished possessions.

Michael Marcon Tweets: We celebrate our spouse.

This is a new tradition for me that I owe to my dear friend, Phil Shultes. A few years ago, Phil lost his wife, Mary Ann, suddenly to a brain aneurysm. All of his friends were shocked and saddened. We all hurried to upstate NY to be with him and support him. As he gave his wife’s eulogy, he told us of a tradition he had. Every year, on his children’s birthdays, he sent Mary Ann a dozen roses. The note always said, “Thank You.” A few weeks later, on March 18 (Matthew’s birthday), Mary received a dozen roses. The card said, “Thank You.” On, May 10 (Keaton’s birthday), she received a dozen roses. The card said, “Thank You.”

My last tradition? Try to be smart enough to recognize when someone else has created a great tradition and incorporate it into your life. I think I will head out and buy some stock in FTD and 1-800-Flowers right now, before this post gets published.

Michael C. Marcon is the founder & CEO of Equity Risk Partners and former chairman of the Ursinus College board of trustees. He tweets from @mcm7464. Tweet him any of your questions about business, leadership or life.

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