I love traditions. I look forward to hanging decorations in that certain spot or cooking a favorite and requested recipe each year. I enjoy watching the same movie with my girls each holiday season or gathering with family and friends to play the game that brings both competition and laughter to our home. When you create or continue traditions you also create memories.
I remember a few years ago asking my Mom if she still had the little Pilgrim boy, Pilgrim girl and turkey candles that she displayed each year as I was growing up. You could tell she barely remembered these items and said they were probably thrown away several moves ago. I went on to tell my Mom that when she placed these candles in the middle of our large kitchen table, it signaled that Thanksgiving was approaching. Since this is my favorite holiday, I would eagerly watch for these candles! In fact, I remember acting out the Thanksgiving story with the candles when no one was looking.
A couple weeks later, I received an unexpected package and was surprised to open a box that contained three candles – the Pilgrim boy, the Pilgrim girl and the turkey. My Mom found a company that carried them! I called to thank her and decided to continue this tradition. I ordered two more sets of candles and gave them to my daughters before Thanksgiving. I typed up this story and included it in the box. I don’t know which meant more to them, the candles or the childhood story of one of my favorite traditions.
I tell you this long tale because traditions are important. As a small child, I found comfort in these simple candles. They brought memories of past Thanksgivings with both sets of Grandparents and wonderful food. They let me know that while life was full of changes, there are some things that stay the same. That’s why it’s important to me to create new and continue old traditions with my family and friends.
Create and Continue Traditions in Your Home as You Create Memories:
- Even if you aren’t naturally creative, you can start great traditions in your home. Check out blogs, magazines and Pinterest for new ideas to try. But don’t forget asking the “experts”. Your family and friends are a rich resource when looking for new traditions to begin in your own life. My tradition of praying over a new family each week from my Christmas cards was “copied” when my friend told me how she looked forward to this each year. This is one time it’s okay to copy!
- Don’t save traditions just for holidays. That’s right, traditions are certainly important at holidays but you can have traditions all year long. It may be as simple as having Taco Tuesdays, but this simple ritualistic meal can bring comfort and fun to your home!
- Remember, striving for perfection can keep you from doing anything or enjoying your traditions. I remember the first Christmas I was married I had this Norman Rockwell image in my mind…the place settings…the food…an apron…what?! After a perfectly lovely, but definitely not Norman Rockwell holiday, I found myself crying and feeling like I had somehow failed. I’m so grateful God allowed me to get rid of the idea of perfection and instead enjoy the people and places right in front of me!
- Try, try and try again. Some of the new traditions you try with your family and friends may not be received well – don’t be discouraged! There were several times I thought I had come up with a brilliant way to celebrate a particular holiday only to have my family look at me like, really Mom? But, that didn’t stop me! I would discard that idea and search for another way to celebrate and connect. And who knows…they may want to participate in that very tradition years down the road!
- Involve your family and friends as you prepare for new seasons and upcoming holidays. As my girls grew, I would ask about their favorite traditions. They would list things that I knew were fun and expected, but sometimes they’d throw in a tradition I didn’t even know had become one. You may find you have your own “Thanksgiving candle” story happening and you didn’t even realize it!
- When circumstances in your life change – you may need to change some of your traditions. This can be hard. Several years ago when I went through a divorce, I didn’t know how to get through those first few holidays and special occasions. Here’s where involving your children is crucial. Pick a couple favorite “old” traditions but certainly add and try new ones. And don’t put a lot of pressure on yourself to do it all. Give yourself grace and accept help from others. Say “yes” when a friend invites your family over for a holiday meal or dessert. Allow a neighbor to help you set up your Christmas tree or lights. Decide what traditions you want to do this year and let the other ones go – they’ll be waiting there if you decide to pick them back up another year!
I love hearing stories of how other people celebrate holidays, special occasions and life! I would love you to list your favorite tradition(s) in the comment section below. I want to add new ways to gather my family and friends to create memories. I will be taking notes!