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Challenge: Your Special Traditions

A Treasured Token of Years Past

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Early on as a first time mom, I desired to make a fun holiday tradition for my family. Holidays can be steeped in so many traditions that are just general, but I wanted something very personal, and uniquely special.

It was important to me that I find a tradition that was neither expensive or elaborate. I needed something that could be cost conscious yet meaningful. No matter how tight the budget might be, I wanted to make sure I could make the fun tradition happen.

The tradition I decided to do was an Ornament of the Year Tradition. Each year, I choose a special ornament that somehow signifies a special part of my child's year. It may be a milestone memory, a particular interest, or maybe a paramount event or accomplishment.

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The kids always know that I'll choose an ornament, put it in their stocking and then explain why I chose the ornament I did. Then we keep a running list of the ornaments on a large piece of paper that's neatly tucked away with their individual boxes of ornaments each year. The ornaments are carefully tucked away until the following year when we lovingly unpack all the special memories and share in the decorating and reminiscing.

Some of the milestone ornaments included: took first steps, lost first tooth, got glasses, learned to ride a bike, first day of school, played soccer, and got driver's license.

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Other more momentous event ornaments included: played Joseph in Christmas play, winning Young Authors award, being elected Student Council VP, lettering in track, playing in state basketball game, winning state volleyball, or state champion in track.

Still other ornaments simply signified their unique interests or fascinations and included: Curious George, Buzz Lightyear, mouse doing art, little elf cooking, tools, gaming, Mr. Potatot Head toy favorite, musical instruments, Little Tikes red car, tractors, dolls, favorite sports, favorite players or teams, ballet, gymnastics, sporting balls, and even Survivor and Little Einsteins! Each of these were fun reminders of things they held dear or enjoyed, even if only for that year.

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And the final ornament...a dorm room door (they've all chosen college so far, but could be other things too) that signifies that door to the next chapter of life and cherishing and treasuring the memories of growing up in our home.

Mom and Dad usually put the tree together, and then each child pulls out their own little boxes with special ornaments all their own. We read memories from the papers or let the kids tell the little stories as they carefully put their individual ornaments on the tree. Oh the laughs and reminsicing we do as they place them upon the tree, each telling stories, and maybe a little of embellishing, as we go!

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After the kids place their special ornaments on the tree, we also hang the special family ornaments. Each year as we added a new member to our family, we'd get a new family ornament that added that person as well. As you can imagine, with a family of seven kids, that made for lots of special additions! The first ornament with just mom, dad and oldest child, to now having grands added!

The kids all enjoy adding the family ornaments, and especially the year they were added to the family! Of course all sorts of jokes and teasing are thrown around as well.

Just as we treasured all these moments when they happened, we treasure watching the kids take pride and joy in those moments and reliving them together as a family each year at Christmas.

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Through the busyness and stress of the season, this is but a small tradition that we come back to each year. The kids often guess what kind of ornament will be chosen, and even anticipate finding the ornament in their stocking.

Each child has been able to start their own ornament collection this way. And each child will have their own little collection to take and share with others in their life...significant others who may enjoy learning more about them, spouses who might also cherish a glimpse into those growing up years, and even their future kids!

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Some day, I won't be here with our kids at Christmas, and I pray that this little tradition will be but a sweet reminder of the loving, caring, and sharing in their lives that I truly cherished and valued. I hope these memories will be ones they share together, laugh about together, and maybe even pass along the tradition to their own children some day.

I wouldn't say that our tree is amazingly beautiful. It won't ever be featured in a magazine for sure. And I'm quite certain it leans to the side and has several very empty spots and several overloaded areas. So I cringe just a bit whenever I think of posting it for others to see.

But the beauty of our tree is in the eye of the beholder. And when I look at our tree, I remember all these moments and ponder them in my heart, hoping my children willtoo.

I hope this holiday tradition we share might inspire you to think of ways that you can treasure the memories you share as a family. And can I remind you of don't have to make big, grand Christmas memories or traditions, sometimes the specialness is just in the purpose and intention we put in doing them.

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As a parent coach I work with many families that are stuggling through raising children who are highly sensitive, emotionally intense, or exhibiting challenging behaviors. Many of these families struggle through the holidays, since they don't share in many of the usual festivities and feelings of the holiday. I get it.

That's another reason I like this tradition. It doesn't involve going, doing, or getting ready for anything. It is just a simple and fun thing that can take place at home, any day during the holiday season. It's a matter of minutes, and can be managed by even the child who is demand avoidant, highly sensitive, or highly emotional. And it's helpful to have a little tradition that gets easily tucked in and doesn't seem disruptive for a child who just needs routine.

Parenting can be tough. You don't need to walk this journey alone. If you feel like you are kind of limping your way through the holidays and needing a little support or encouragement, I am here for you! Visit to find a couple downloadable tools I'm sharing, and consider them my gift to you for the holidays. (Links below as well!)

Whether your holiday memories and traditions are big or small...cherish them. These days will pass, and even though they are tough now, you will wish you had taken in the good things, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem right now.

Sending you hugs and extras for the holidays! You've got this! I'm here if you need an ear or anything else!



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