Celebrate what you want to see more of. ~Tom Peters
Family traditions provide such an opportunity for celebration. When we take the time to celebrate, to put together a few festivities just for the people we love…it means so very much. Traditions are what we remember of our childhood. How many stories have you told of your childhood that started out “We always…”
When the family composition changes…due to divorce, death, or even the addition of a new person…decisions must be made regarding which traditions will go, which will stay, and which might be tweaked. These events can also be a great opportunity to revive traditions from your past, things that maybe got lost along the way.
Make it big!
Family Traditions can be elaborate productions. Large Thanksgiving meals with all the trimmings…Christmases with decorations, cookies, and beautifully wrapped presents. You can spend hours, days, weeks, and months putting together a grand family event. These events are fabulous and certainly the stuff of memories!
You can be less elaborate and still create wonderful and memorable family traditions.
To create some excitement in the frozen sun-deprived early months of the year I came up with silly, low maintenance traditions that the kids really look forward too. Doing everything by myself made me think about ways to simplify, be memorable, and yet keep the focus on family. Here’s a rundown of our typical calendar of festivities. We sprinkle in zoo visits and typically hit the local Renaissance festival. Perhaps these ideas will inspire your family. Feel free to share your family traditions below…we are always looking for new ways to celebrate!
Because my darlings are not fans of the sauerkraut…our traditional pork and cabbage good luck meal has been converted to coleslaw and sausage. Yum!
Ground Hog’s Day
No Ground Hog’s Day is complete without watching Bill Murray’s Ground Hog Day, and a review of Punxsutawney Phil’s predictions for the timing of spring!
Valentine’s Day is great time to shower your kids with extra lovin’. Hearts abound! We celebrate a Valentine’s breakfast with heart shaped waffles, topped with cherry pie filling, whipped cream and heart shaped sprinkles. Strawberry milk, heart shaped brownies and cakes, and tiny heart boxes of yummy chocolates end our day.
St. Patrick’s Day
Clovers all over! St. Patrick's Day is one of my favorite holidays. I love St. Patrick’s incredible story and his dedication to God and the Irish people who were once his captors. The magic of leprechauns and the promise of good luck make this holiday one filled with nothing but fun! No pressures, no presents, just joy. We fill up on a breakfast of green pancakes topped with whipped cream and green sprinkles. Green ice cream, jello, pudding, and mashed potatoes tickle our tummies, and no St. Patty’s Day is complete without a McDonald’s Shamrock Shake or two!
Decorated eggs, yummy chocolates, filled baskets, and new church attire signal that spring is finally here! After a full Holy Week, celebrating the rising of Christ and the beginning of a new growing season fills us with optimism and sunshine!
4th of July
Always a “bang” of a holiday. (Lame…I know.) Our holiday fireworks show is typically at my sister’s house. After a hot day of volleyball and picnicking we relax and watch the show…then make the looonnnnggg drive home.
We go pumpkin shopping and everyone carves a pumpkin (little children can use paint or clay) with the design of their choice to create their festive pumpkin faces. Costumes are chosen from the box of items we have, or new ones are created. My kids are too big for trick-or-treating, but they dress up for school, parties, to pass out candy and enjoy the little kids. Often their friends come over to help out. We decorate pumpkin and cat cookies, make orange cakes, and decorate the house…inside and out. After a busy fall of band, sports, and theater, Halloween signals the beginning of our downtime. We all look forward to a little hibernation!
Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go…the minivan is our modern day horse and sleigh and we all enjoy time with our extended family. A traditional feast with turkey and ham…sometimes roast…and the all fixins’ to create a pop your pants button sleep promoting meal.
Christmas is a very high maintenance holiday. There are months of preparations and planning. Decorations, trees, inside and outside lights, shopping, spending, wrapping, delivering, etc. By the time the holiday arrives you are whipped!! While I love Christmas and everything that goes with it, the thought of putting together a large meal at the end of weeks and weeks of preparation honestly makes my head want to explode. All I want to do Christmas day is enjoy my kids opening their gifts, ponder the true meaning of day, and chill out in my PJ’s…and that is exactly what I do. When my marriage ended I started a new Christmas family tradition. Instead of creating a giant feast for my family when I had absolutely not a drop of energy to pull it off…I came up with a new plan.
First, we go to Mass Christmas Eve and everyone sleeps as late as they choose. Once the sleepyheads finally rise we open presents and check out all our new stuff. A big breakfast of eggs, pastries, sausages, etc., keep us full into early afternoon. Instead of a giant cornucopia of labor intensive dishes, we have finger foods! I load up the table with a variety of finger foods chosen the week before. Pizza rolls, meatballs, chicken wings, veggies and dip, cheese, hard meats, and crackers, fruit, candies, etc. The kids just come help themselves throughout the day. We all relax, enjoying each other, and the love of our family. It is perfect.
We always take an evening somewhere between Thanksgiving and New Year's to visit the Zoo. The lights are incredible, and the music is relaxing and nostalgic. A visit to the Zoo during a cold evening provides a once a year opportunities to see animals more active during these times. Bundle up and prepare to be delighted!