The other day I was chatting with a preschool teacher about one of our family holiday traditions, and I mentioned that I might change part of the tradition until the boys were older because that part was not as enjoyable for me at their ages. And she said to me, "Well, aren't traditions really for us, not the kids?"
I laughed and said I agreed, but I kept thinking about that statement. And I don't agree.
Traditions are important to the kids too. It may mean something different to a 4 year-old than it does to me, but doing an activity or attending an event or going on a trip every year is important to all members of a family.
If we ever miss one of our traditional events or consider altering it a bit, the kids keep us in check. It's the kids who say, but it's our tradition to.....
In fact, it was Darling 1 who reminded us on Tuesday night that it's "our tradition" to get gingerbread cookies after going through the Macy's Santaland exhibit and getting the picture with Santa. Clearly, the cookie getting is an important part of the tradition for him.
Our Christmas Traditions
We have traditions we uphold throughout the year, but during this season, in which our family celebrates Christmas, we have quite a few traditional activities. Here are a few of them:
Macy's 8th Floor Santaland
The Santa & Albert Holiday Play at Bachman's
Making Beeswax Candles at Woodlake Nature Center
Reindeer Day in Linden Hills
Candlelight and Ice New Year's Eve Celebration at Woodlake Nature Center
Putting up our Christmas Tree
Building a gingerbread house
Baking Christmas Cookies
Driving around the neighborhood looking at Christmas lights while sipping hot chocolate and listening to Christmas music
New PJs on Christmas Eve
And a couple I'd like to add this year...
Holiday Lights in the Park at Lake Phalen and
Night Trains at Twin Cities Model Railroads Museum
And eventually, we'll add midnight mass, when the boys are older and can make it past 10 pm. This is one I'm really looking forward to.
Not just a Repeated Activity
What's in a tradition? Why are these rituals so important to us? They're memories to call upon, stories to tell; they shape our childhoods and perhaps the childhoods of our children; they comfort us; make us laugh and cry and feel close to friends and family, even when those people can't be near us or we aren't able to experience a closely held tradition due to circumstances that can't be helped. Our traditions are a part of us.
It matters not what season it is, traditions abound; whether it's a personal tradition, a family tradition; traditional activities with a group of friends or co-workers or even a local, state or national tradition; traditions are everywhere. And yet, it's this holiday season that seems to bring out the most personal, memorable traditions.
It can be as simple or as complicated as putting up a Christmas tree. Is your tradition to have a real tree or an artificial tree? If it's real, do you cut it down yourself? Is it potted? If so, do you re-plant it? Do you always get a fir or pine or a short one or a fat one? These things may not be significant to you....unless it's part of your tradition.
So, while it may not feel important to all members of the family at this point in time, the traditions you create in your family ARE important. I bake cookies every year, just like my mom always did; we have stockings on Christmas morning, just like Will and I always did as kids; and we always have a big, fat real tree.
What are your family's traditions? Over and out...