Family traditions reveal what we value enough to repeat, and – if done with love- build warm, happy associations. -Daniel Willingham
Traditions were a staple in my large family growing up. With a family of eight there was not a great deal of extravagance or even vacations, but the traditions were plentiful and continue to bring me joy as a look back on my life. As I began a family of my own shortly after I lost both of my parents, I recognized the importance in creating family traditions that my children would value and cherish throughout their childhood and lives.
Our family traditions include Valentines Day with all the red and hearts and St. Patrick’s Day with all the green. For Easter we always dye eggs and have a scavenger hunt to find our hidden Easter baskets. We also do a family egg hunt with the cousins on each side of our family. We always kick off the summer with a Memorial Day camping trip and a bucket list of summer activities we want to find the time to do together. We love to apple pick and visit pumpkin patches in the fall. We also always attend our town Halloween Walk the Thursday before Halloween and spend Halloween night trick or treating as a family. The Christmas season is full of traditions including seasonal movies, picking out a live Christmas Tree, visiting Santa, evenings of light display walks and drives, and mimosas and cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. Throughout the year we celebrate each birthday with a decorated bedroom, dinner chosen by the birthday person and a small decorated birthday cake for just our family.
While some traditions come along naturally through the repetition of enjoyable activities from year to year, other traditions have been created and enacted with a consideration to my children’s passions and our family holiday schedules.
When creating family traditions some things to consider are:
1. How will the tradition bring joy to our family?
It’s important to create traditions that will bring joy to your family now and in memories later on. If the
tradition is not one that can be remembered with great fondness and a smile it is probably not worth
incorporating into an already hectic life.
2. What will this tradition look like in 1, 5 or 10 years?
While traditions can shift and evolve over time, it is not really a tradition if it is constantly changing. When
trying to create family traditions is important to think about years to come in order to create traditions that
can last rather than traditions that must constantly adapt to a changing family.
3. Does this tradition feel like a burden to continue?
Sometimes holidays can feel hectic and burdensome in an effort to do all the things and see all the people. A
family tradition should not feel like an additional burden. It should either ease the burden or be a welcome
aspect to an already hectic and overwhelming time.
4. What do I want my family to gain from this tradition?
It is important to remember why we have the traditions we have as sometimes keeping traditions simply for
the sake of tradition can actually take away from their original intention. It is important when maintain or
creating traditions, to consider what one is seeking in maintaining this family tradition.
As an adult who grew up in a home rich with traditions I have a great deal of respect for traditions and the ways they enhanced my childhood holidays and life as a whole. I hope that my children feel the same way when they look back on their childhood in the future.
What are some of your favorite family traditions and how have your traditions changed as you have started a family of your own?