What are your Family Traditions?

family_traditionI remember Sunday drives.  Making homemade pizza on Fridays.  Baking sugar cookies, mincemeat pies and other goodies that went on for days before Christmas.  I remember playing football after Thanksgiving dinner, and then an outdoor camp fire.  A drive to pick out and then carve pumpkins before Halloween.

Everyone has a family tradition.  Some of you may not even know it, but you’re creating them as you go along.  How they evolve is a complete mystery.  Some families keep their parents’ traditions, but add a new twist.  Other traditions are created completely by accident. Like the father who takes his son on his first camping trip, and then suddenly it’s an expected tradition every year, and for those siblings that follow. The point is there are no rules, really.

Sadly, in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, traditions can be difficult to establish.  Through no fault of one’s own, it’s the work meetings, school activities, and meeting the needs of a growing family that take precedence.

So how do you start?  It’s simple.  Think of your own memories as a child.  What stood out to you the most?  What made those rituals or traditions magical?  Were all traditions centered on the holidays? Did your family film these events?  If so, taking a peek into the past may provide some new family magic of your own.

Want my advice?  Don’t over plan or over schedule.  Trying to keep up tradition for appearances is not only exhausting, but overrated. Keep it relaxed.  Traditions shouldn’t be so orchestrated that they create more stress than they’re worth.  The idea behind creating a few traditions or rituals for your new family is for them to be memorable, strengthen bonds and perhaps, impart a sense of belonging and identity to your small and growing family.  Most importantly, it’s a time for you and your growing family to have fun!

Start with small rituals and build on it.  For instance, a great idea came from Mighty Mommy, Cheryl Butler.  Called the tradition of the red plate, it begins with a family member’s special day, like a birthday, or with someone getting good grades, winning a baseball game or some other accomplishment.  With the red plate a tradition can begin that upon a child’s special accomplishment; they have their favorite meal and dessert or cake and ice cream for breakfast.  For Birthdays, establish a tradition that it be a child’s special day as King or Queen for that entire day.

Some other ideas for family traditions can include watching horror movies the week before Halloween, or shopping for stocking stuffers as a family.  Once a month, plan a hike in a park of your choice.  I know families who actually pick one day a month to volunteer at a charity together.

Incorporate Food Traditions.  For my family every fall started with picking orchard apples complete with hay ride in the White Mountains of NH.  The following weekend meant making and baking anything with apples in it.   Other options can be strawberry picking in the spring.   Looking for something that doesn’t involve travel?  How about Pancakes or waffles for Sunday breakfast.

From parentfurther.com, is a list of ideas for enriching the Holiday season.  Save the big meal of Thanksgiving for Black Friday, and see a family movie on Thanksgiving Day.  This idea not only sounds like less stress, but more time for preparation without the commercialization.

Maybe the key is to not only acknowledge those traditions centered on the holidays, but the even smaller traditions or family rituals we participate.  Traditions, whenever and wherever celebrated, make the most of those cherished memories year-round.