Family traditions are the things that you remember as you get older. I imagine sitting in my rocker in my old age reminiscing about all the traditions our family has lived out over the years. To me family traditions aren’t about the actual act of the tradition. It is more about the experience and time spent together. It’s really about the memories made. Our memories help to shape us. My family traditions are not going to be the exact same as anyone else’s traditions. They are what make us unique. They are what bring us together. They are what bond us as a family unit. Nothing brings a flood of memories of family traditions like the holidays. Caroline Kennedy once said, “It’s true, Christmas can feel like a lot of work, particularly for mothers. But when you look back on all the Christmases in your life, you’ll find you’ve created family traditions and lasting memories. Those memories, good and bad, are really what help to keep a family together over the long haul.” I believe that is so true. Our memories keep us together. They are like the superglue that bond us together. I agree that mothers tend to stress over making the holidays perfect for their kids. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make it the most magical time of the year for our kids. I know I do. We stress over getting the perfect gifts, the food we are going to eat, the cool experiences we are going to have, and so much more. We have to remember that it is about the memories made and not so much about having the perfect Christmas. We have to remember to pay attention to even the little joys of the season because in the long run, those will be the memories that you cherish.
Over the last week with Thanksgiving, Black Friday shopping, and decorating for Christmas, I have thought a lot about family traditions. I have reminisced about the traditions that my family had when I was a kid and how some of those traditions have evolved into the traditions that I do with my family now. Those are the important parts of the holidays. I can assure you that I can’t remember what I got for Christmas 10 years ago, but I certainly remember sitting on my grandmother’s lap on Christmas Eve as she pretended to be Mrs. Claus, like she does every year, telling everyone how proud she was of me, how much I meant to her, and how I am always the angel at the top of her tree. I can’t tell you what we ate for Christmas lunch 15 years ago, but I can remember standing around in my Nanny’s kitchen watching her cook like we always do and teasing her about burning the bread while she tried shooing us all out, but we all stayed there together anyway. It was more about the time together than the food we ate. I can’t tell you what Santa brought my kids for Christmas 5 years ago, but I can remember how they paced the hallway waiting for me to get the camera set up and the joy on their faces as they rushed into the room when I said go. As I sat on the floor this past Sunday night handing my kids each of the ornaments we own one by one to put on the tree, I reminisced about each of them. You see, the ornaments on my tree aren’t fancy. Some are down right tacky, but I don’t care. Each one of them holds a memory. Some are ornaments from my childhood and my husband’s childhood including ones that we handmade years and years ago. My husband has this dove he cut out of Styrofoam with his childhood name written with pencil in his handwriting across the back. I have one that is a little plastic cup where I glued construction paper inside of it to make the manger with baby Jesus inside. Many are ones that my children have made including a paintbrush and candy canes made from craft pipe cleaners. I especially love the ones with their little faces on them. One my family’s traditions began on our honeymoon all those years ago. Every time we go on vacation or travel somewhere, we get an ornament to remind us of that trip. My kids are in on the tradition too and love picking out the ornament each time we go somewhere. We have so many from our trips to Disney, that we now have a small tree that is just dedicated to Disney ornaments. We have ornaments from Hawaii, Boston, New York, Scotland, and more. Every single year when we decorate the tree, we remember those trips and we even talk about them when those ornaments come out of the box. My sister began a tradition when my oldest was born of giving them each an ornament for Christmas, and I now do the same with my nephews. Those also add more memories to our tree. While these are all family traditions, it isn’t about the tradition. It is about the memories that these traditions evoke. Who knew when we began the ornament tradition almost 19 years ago that something so small would hold so many memories? It truly warms my heart to look at my tree all lit up.
Just remember, especially through this holiday season, that you need to cherish each other and the time spent making memories with each other. That is my goal for this holiday season. It’s not about the presents received. It’s not about what you do. It’s about the people you share it all with. It’s about the memories that you make through the traditions you uphold. I am certainly guilty of over buying for my kids because I want them to have it all. I am guilty of trying to make it magical and stressing out when it doesn’t go the way I had planned in my head. The holidays have often brought me stress because I am trying to make everyone else happy. I loose sight of what the holidays are all about and I forget to live in the moment. My goal for this year is to not get stressed. My goal is to continue those family traditions that are special to me but to be totally present in all the little moments because those are the moments that will create memories that will last a lifetime. I encourage you to start those family traditions that will bring you joy for years to come and to be totally present in the moment. By doing that, you will create memories for you and your children that will never be forgotten. What greater gift can you give yourself and your children than happy memories that will continue to give to you and them for the rest of your life? There is nothing that holds more value than memories of time spent together.
Anchored in Family Traditions and Memories,