Yesterday at MOPS our great Friend Kate spoke on Keeping Family Traditions. She really did a fabulous job talking about all the many different traditions their family has throughout the year for both “everyday” days and “especially” days (I love that term FYI!). It made me start to think about the traditions Chris and I have for our family – why we have them and all the other things we’ve talked about but have yet to implement. (she also gave me some great ideas for Christmas gifts that I ordered this very morning!)
You can see Kate’s recap of her talk and their traditions on her blog – it gave me a few new ideas that Chris and I will have to talk about as well.
Our tree came from Orvis, and while they don’t carry the exact one we have anymore, it’s similar to this one. I like that it’s small, simple and fits on our dining table so that we can do our Jesse Tree devotions right after dinner. I got the idea last year from Tired, Need Sleep to put all our items in a small plain box (we use a plain white, undecorated cardboard school pencil box) and place it under the tree each evening. Our box holds a small tan piece of pipe cleaner (straw to put in the manger for Jesus’ bed), the ornament, and a small piece of candy. Last year we used The Advent Jesse Tree Book as our devotional, but I didn’t like it much, even the kid’s version was a bit too abstract for me, and it seemed to lose the point of following the line of Jesus up to his birth. I did like that it took some of the pressure off since it was our first year doing it, but this year, I’ll be modifying our devotionals and readings so that they are more centered on what our goal is – Getting Inara to understand that Christmas is all about Jesus, and helping us to all focus on that meaning.
We also chose not to celebrate in a way that includes Santa. Gifts and stockings are clearly marked as being from Mom & Dad (or Grandma & Grandpa or Aunts and Uncles obviously) This is a personal choice for our family that it took several seasons of conversations and adjusting expectations for Chris and I to decide on (and then break the news to our parents – sorry mom I think telling you, was one of the hardest parts for me).
Chris’ family reads the bible passages surrounding the story of Jesus’ birth each year on Christmas morning, which is something we’ve also talked about, but have yet to incorporate into our celebrations.
We started last year, and I plan to continue, that Inara will make an ornament each year for our tree as well as her Grandparents and teachers.
We don’t really have many traditions around this, other than we eat good yummy food, and we always invite our friends over if they may need a place to go. I would like to start a few new traditions around this day. I really liked Kate’s “Thankfulness Countdown” idea the week leading up to Thanksgiving, and I’d also like to start some kind of memory of that day in specific. I read somewhere once, that the family bought a large, plain white tablecloth, and every year everyone in attendance painted a handprint onto the same tablecloth and wrote their name and what they were thankful for with the handprint. So that year after year they had a visual of how their family had grown, who had visited, and things they were thankful for in the past. My only issue with this idea, is that we always seem to get new stains on our cloth each year, and I’d hate for it to get ruined like that.
Other than a trip to the pumpkin patch, we’re still trying to figure this one out. We neither want to participate in the “scary and creepy” aspects of this holiday, but we also want our kids to enjoy the fun (and spoils) that can be found with it.
Military/Remembrance holidays (Memorial day, July 4th, Veterans day etc.)
Growing up, there was always a parade for these in our family. Coming from a proud and patriotic family full of Military members past and present, these are important holidays for me. It’s important for me to instill in my kids the same since of fierce pride in my country and the men and women who serve it that my parents have given to me. I want my children to understand what our flag represents, and how to properly honor it. More important to me, is that I want them to understand the sacrifices of our military and their families. The things these men and women have done and given in order to keep us safe, free, and enjoying the lives we value full of choices and options that so many other nations do not have (even in developed countries, and powerful nations), and so many of them have done it through scorn, ridicule, without a word of thanks, and out of a true sense of duty that makes them unsure of why the rest of us are (or should be) grateful to them. I want my kids to know the words to our Pledge of Alligence, the Star Spangled Banner, and more, that seems to not be the norm any longer (when was the last time you saw people at a sports even actually sing along to the National Anthem and it doesn’t count if they had to read the words on the jumbo tron). I think in a lot of ways, the deep meaning on these holidays still is far above Inara’s reach, but I am starting now in getting her to show respect and gratitude where it’s due.
Easter Baskets & Egg hunts (Yumm Peeps and Chocolate!) we don’t do much to focus on the religious aspect, but that’s something we are talking about and trying to correct. This may be especially interesting since we’re expecting a new baby at the beging of lent this year.
In the past we have made a Tomb cake (something we stole the idea from the Palmers) It’s a cake that you bake, carve into a half round shape, and remove some of the center from – making a tomb. Put a large cookie over the entrance and then on Easter morning remove the cookie (seal) and the tomb is empty. I liked Kate’s Tomb cookies though, we’ll be adding these to our traditions for sure!
St Patrick’s Day:
For sure there is Corned Beef for dinner! The past few years I’ve also tried to include some “traditional” Irish foods too – cabbage soup, Soda Bread, etc. with some success and some, not so success. This is one of those fun days, that I just enjoy (and now I want Corned Beef for dinner just thinking about it!)
At this point, we don’t really do anything. It’s maybe another one of those holidays Chris and I need to talk about, since I know as our Girls get older they are going to need a foundation for to prevent them getting swept up in the Hallmark Romance of it all (especially with girls!)
It’s a time for lots of good food, and reflection. I’d like to start a journal Similar to what Kate does for their Anniversary, only for our whole family to share blessings, trials, lessons, goals for the year to come, etc.
I’m trying to reframe my expectations and stick to smaller celebrations. We skipped a party all together this year for Inara’s birthday (we did have another family over for dinner and cake, but that was all). I’m going to try and stick to the rule of “the number of friends as the year old you are” in the future (the one exception being 1st birthdays which I think should be a HUGE deal – that EVERYONE survived that first year lol). So next year Inara will only be able to invite four friends to her birthday party. The focus is on celebrating them, and their lives, not on cake, candy, ice cream, and presents.
Taco Saturday – The family goes out for Breakfast tacos each Saturday morning. Don’t know what will happen If/when we move somewhere outside of the realm of breakfast tacos – guess I’ll have to make them myself. This is our substitution of Chris’ family tradition of Dion’s Pizza each Friday night.
These are what I can think of right now, I’m sure I’m probably forgetting something, but that’s OK.