I take family tradition very seriously. There are just certain things in life that you can’t replace and are priceless. Passing things on from one generation to another is one of those things. Memories can’t be replaced. You can’t go back in time and retrieve things that were lost. I take pride in teaching my girls about family traditions. They have great grandparents they may never know other than through the photographs we keep. But we can also keep their memory alive through traditions. Here’s how I do it.
Ever since I was a child, I’ve found books to be magical. Stories transport you to another time and place. You find yourself in an adventure each time you open one. I read to my daughters every night, just as my mother once did to me, and my grandmother before that. It makes me sad to see small bookstores closing and so many books being downloaded or read online. Sure, this is convenient and I get that, but the tradition of reading and holding a solid book in your hand, is something I cherish.
There’s nothing like the smell of an old book. I have boxes piled high in my attic from my childhood. My grandmother signed and dated every book that she gave me, which she did often. Every holiday was an occasion for giving a book. Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Valentines Day, and my birthday. You name it and my grandmother always slipped a book into my gift bag. And I looked forward to it each time.
I love nothing more than reading to my daughters. The same books my grandmother read to me. I show them her signature inside and the date. They never met my grandmother but she’s alive in those pages and in the stories we share. I keep her memory alive and I hope that my daughters will do the same.
Cooking with your kids has so many amazing benefits and passing on family tradition is just one of them. Cooking teaches your child about math, reading, nutrition, and even problem solving. They use fine and gross motor skills for stirring, kneading dough, and measuring. But my favorite thing about cooking with my girls is sharing with them recipes from my past.
My grandmother was an amazing cook. She was definitely one of those women that put in a “dash of this” and a “pinch of that” without really measuring. Many recipes came from experimentation and inspiration from her garden. She didn’t bother writing things down. But before she passed, I asked her to please document some of our family’s favorite recipes. It was the only thing I wanted from my grandmother’s estate. I didn’t want her jewelry, her clothing, or her furniture. I wanted her recipes because they were the most valuable item to me. And I knew that through her recipes, her memory would live on. I think of her each time we bake banana bread or make beef stew. I can taste the memories.
Similar to recipes, holidays are the perfect way to pass on family traditions and keep them alive. I’m sure we all have certain things we did on Thanksgiving or Christmas morning as a kid that we now practice with our own kids.
For me, Christmas Eve meant a host of appetizers and desserts with no formal dinner. It meant opening one present from under the tree and placing Santa’s milk and cookies near the front door. These are the same things I do with my girls. Christmas morning meant opening your stocking first and french toast for breakfast. When I do these same things with my daughters now, it feels like I’m revisiting my past. We’ve also started our own tradition of spreading reindeer food (oatmeal mixed with glitter) outside in the lawn for Santa’s reindeer. Before everyone packs up to go home on Christmas Eve, we all bundle up in our coats and head outside to spread the food. The kids run up and down the lawn, throwing the glitter and oat everywhere. They laugh and giggle at the thought of the reindeer following the shiny glitter to our house. I know my girls will cherish those memories and share them with their own children.
Family Traditions are Timeless
The greatest thing about family traditions is that anyone can pass them on and they can be uniquely special to you and your memories. No family tradition is wrong or silly. If it means something to you, then it’s worth preserving.