Things I Love: Family Traditions

I was reading another blog today that mentioned you can just expect a Christmas tradition to happen on its own. That you can sit around and plan nothing and expect that in a few years, your family will have a tradition to fall into for the holidays (unless your family tradition is doing nothing, then you are golden). This made me think about what traditions do I want for my kids, my family.

Growing up and really, currently, my Christmases have always looked the exact same and Thanksgiving was also pretty set – just a slight change-up in locations for dinner on that one between my parent’s house and my brother’s house (I hosted once and until we have a bigger house, I probably won’t host again, but I’m more than happy to make food to bring).

For myself, I’ve starting spending the month of November listing one thing I’m thankful for every day as my Facebook status, I hope to keep this up in future years because one can never be too thankful, trust me on that one. I’ve also mentioned that the church I grew up in has a tradition of a Thanksgiving morning church service during which everyone gets to write something they are thankful for on a paper leaf. The leaves are collected and then hung on an empty tree at the front of church – filling it with color and thankfulness. I love that. We’re also starting a tradition of grown-up game night over Thanksgiving weekend one evening after the kids are tucked in bed. We snack and play games (Apples to Apples is our favorite). So fun.

Christmas is always the same… Christmas Eve at my parents house after we are all back from church. We have dinner and then open presents as a family and then eat some more. Christmas Day we go to my brother’s house and eat some more, watch movies and play games (sometimes we even go for a walk, but only if we’re feeling extra ambitious and there isn’t a blizzard).

The problem, which is not so much a problem, is that all of things happen away from our home and aren’t so unique to our little family. So I’m trying to figure out things to do for my kids, traditions to kick-start so they will have fond memories when they are older.

Here are the things I’m going to try to add this holiday season [Note: Can I stop for a minute and note how unprepared I am for Thanksgiving to be NEXT week – yikes!]:

  • Making our own thankfulness tree at our house.
  • I made mini-chalkboards that I’m going to take to Thanksgiving dinner and try to get the whole family to write down their own thing(s) they are thankful for this year.
  • Actually spending a Saturday decorating the house for Christmas with the kids – we have yet to put up a Christmas tree as a family because (a) we have a small house, (b) we are never home for Christmas, (c) we have had small children who would likely knock the tree down about 5 minutes after it was up and decorated – so we probably won’t put up a tree but I have tons of other decorations and lights that can be put up.
  • Doing an Angel tree gift, or something similar, with Liam (Jack can get in on it next year).
  • Doing something every day during advent to prepare our hearts (as a family) for the real reason for Christmas – we just picked up a family devotional last night that might be perfect.
  • Reading a Christmas-related book every day leading up to Christmas.
  • Making and delivering holiday goodies to family friends (this one may or may not happen… we shall see, don’t get your hopes up if you are reading this and you are hoping for something)

What holiday traditions do you have with your kids or do you hope to create?


7 responses to “Things I Love: Family Traditions

  1. I love the leaf idea!! I think we will do something like that in our HS classroom for decoration during November!!! How fabulous!

    Being military and far from family most holidays, we really do things with just us. We still do a large meal since we have a large crew 😉 We decorate for Christmas all together each year, and we have the kids offer ideas for any new ‘traditions’ that we do as a family. It’s so much fun to be a team with all that 🙂

  2. We always put the ornaments on the tree together as a family. My mom gave me and my sisters a handmade ornament every year from birth until we left the house- and I have continued the tradition of giving each of my kids a personalized ornament each year (although not necessarily handmade!) and they have fun putting their “own” ornaments up. Also- we all read through a children’s book about Jesus’ birth and put up the nativity scene, piece by piece, as we read through it (while drinking hot chocolate, for some reason. Once you do something once, the kids don’t forget!)

    And one of my favorite traditions also came from my mom- we always make a birthday cake for Jesus. But in the weeks leading up to Christmas, every time the kids do something extra nice or special for someone else (or you can make up your own rules!) they get to put a candle in the Christmas cup. And that’s how we know how many candles to put on Jesus’ birthday cake. 🙂

  3. Michelle- I cannot recommend The Advent Book highly enough.
    Our mentor couple used it with their family and to date it is the best gift we’ve ever recieved (they gave it to use the Christmas I was pregnant with Ava). Every day you open a door and the christmas story builds. On Christmas you end up reading the complete christmas story as you open all the doors. The doors are beautiful, as are the illustrations.

    I love it so much, I’ll pay you for it if you buy it and end up thinking I am wrong.

  4. We also do a paper chain for a countdown to Christmas and we make a gingerbread house together and we go to see the trains at Breton Village every year. (Can you tell I love holiday traditions? 🙂 )

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