Monday, July 04, 2005

Defining your family as unique: Family traditions and holidays

Happy 4th of July! Growing up, I loved holidays, and still do. To me, every holiday has its own traditions and events that just have to occur or it just doesn’t feel right. My Mom did a great job of incorporating fun and meaningful traditions into our holidays that made them feel special, without extravagant costs or time commitments. My favorites:

4th of July requires fireworks! We never did our own consistently, but living on Queen Anne Hill in Seattle, we had a wonderful view of the free shows in Puget Sound. We’d often invite friends and family for a shared meal (kabobs made by everyone and then bbq’d were so much fun!), and then visiting, and then would walk to see the fireworks. It was always a fun night, even when it rained!

Halloween in our home meant home-made costumes, with creative accessories and make-up. We’d use our own pillowcases for candy (holds a ton!). Mom would generally give out raisins to the trick or treaters, which I found sadly healthy, but it was tradition. We’d trick or treat walking from door to door with friends in the neighborhood, and have a great time! To this day I believe that while you’re trick or treating, you should eat all the candy you want, then have two pieces a day until it’s gone. Great candy boundaries!

Thanksgiving always meant family. Through the years, we’ve adopted new aunts and uncles, and others, and that has made our family what it is. I believe that you may be born into a family, but it’s up to you to add to it! To this day, I’m taking on new sisters, nieces and nephews, and aunts, to make my own family just right. Celebrating the wealth of food we enjoy, the great cooking of everyone who lends a hand, and seeing everyone’s favorite dish on the table is a yearly joy to look forward to.

Christmas has two parts in our family: Christmas Eve is for a fun friends and family potluck and gift exchange. I love giving gifts and enjoy looking for them throughout the year. It reduces the stress right before the holidays if most of your gifts were bought throughout the year! Christmas Morning is for the nuclear family, stockings, gifts for the family pets to open, breakfast with popovers required! Then gifts that get opened in turn, from youngest to oldest. These days, this takes until the afternoon! Then, a Christmas afternoon walk and a dinner of leftovers from the Christmas Eve gathering makes for a wonderful and sweet, quiet Christmas.

Easter is for brunch, egg hunting and Easter baskets! Even as adults, we still enjoy our Easter gifts and chocolates! We’ve started a new tradition for the new generation of hiding plastic eggs filled with stickers, small toys and jelly beans. Re-using the plastic eggs from year to year and filling them with mostly non-edibles works great for our family values.

Whatever you do with your family at the holidays, make sure it fits for you and your family. Don’t be afraid to try something new, or consider asking your family to do something differently. If you’re just starting your family, what a great blank slate you have! Enjoy creating your own family traditions!


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