Family Traditions   4 comments

I wanted to write about some of our family’s unique traditions but in the meantime I was wondering what are YOUR family traditions?

I love a good tradition… I love the familiarity of knowing what will happen on Christmas Eve or my birthday evening. My family was big on traditions and I want to incorporate them into our family life as well as create our own.

Since I’m looking to create some of our own I’d love to steal hear what some of yours are. So here are some of the ones we had growing up so that you can steal enjoy hearing them.

– We did the advent calendar every Sunday leading up to Christmas and on Christmas Eve we would light the last candle and sing Happy Birthday to baby Jesus.

– During the holiday season a little empty manager would appear and my brother and I were to put a piece of straw in the manager every time we did something kind or loving or that Jesus would approve of. It was a nice reminder that the season was about more than gifts and glitz. I remember my brother doing something nice for me and telling him excitedly, “You should go put a piece of straw in!” It was the honor system and not punitive, we were never told to take any out. On Christmas Eve we would put a little figure of baby Jesus in the manger after singing Happy Birthday and we’d also sing Away in a Manger. The kinder we were the softer his bed.

– Of course we left cookies and milk out for Santa and we always got a letter back from him the next day. We also left an apple or carrot for Rudolph 😉

-On Christmas Eve we were allowed to open ONE gift… that my mom picked. That was inevitably new pajamas or slipper or something adorable like that.

– Every year my grandfather or father would need to run to the store to get milk and then Santa would call to tell us he was on his way and to hurry to bed. I always felt so bad that Dad or Poppop missed that call …. 😉

– My father would always read Twas the Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve… to this day I have the entire poem memorized.

— We had Santa “peepers” owl shaped binoculars and right before bed we would go out and look for Santa’s sleigh and/or Rudolph’s nose. Inevitably one of us would “spot” him and this would be my parents queue to rush us off to bed before he arrived.

-We had to have our letter for Santa that said what we wanted for Christmas ready by the weekend after Thanksgiving, so he had time to make everything. We’d lay it in the fireplace before bed and in the morning it would be gone!!!!

-Christmas morning we were not allowed to get up until the sun was up, this rule was implemented as my brother and I got up progressively earlier. But we were allowed to hang out in each others room…. I would always keep the gifts I got for him in my room so when he’d sneak in I’d have something for him.

-My mom would freeze maraschino cherries and sprite into ice cubes on Christmas and Easter… some were red and some were green. It was the most awesome thing ever!

– Of course we dyed our Easter eggs….can’t think of anything beyond the usual for Easter. We were allowed a few minutes to check out our baskets before church and allowed to hunt for an egg or two for breakfast. When we got home we got to do our Easter Egg hunt for the real eggs. After lunch we did a Nana and Poppop search for the little plastic eggs full of goodies.

-When we were sick we had a special sick blanket and sick cup. Mom would make us a bed on the couch or on the floor of her room and would always make whatever we wanted for lunch.

– On our birthdays we always got to pick the restaurant, within reason, that we went to for family dinner. This became a HUGE decision that resulted from weeks of conferencing together… especially because my brothers birthday and mine are 10 days apart.

– We got to select ANYTHING we wanted our birthday cake to be and mom would attempt it. This resulted in my brother issuing some pretty crazy challenges for her.

-On Mother’s Day and Father’s Day we either made breakfast in bed for them (and they pretended it was good) or we took them to McDonalds (which they pretended was good as well).

-On Mother’s Day my mother and Nana got an orchid corsage to wear. All the ladies got them for Easter.

– We always took our photo in the same spot in front of the fireplace for the first day of school and any other big event.

– If we saw my mom or dad shopping for a gift and asked what they were getting they would tell us “Kitten britches” or “Kitten mittens”… that when when an overexcited 4 year old would blurt out “Daddy I know what Mommy got you for your birthday!” It was funny rather than ruining the surprise.

-On random days my mom or dad would show up to school to eat lunch with us, or take us to lunch. Either way it made me feel special.

-On random days my mom would leave a card or note in my lunch box 🙂

-On New Years Eve my parents would make pillow beds on the floor of the living room for us and we’d watch family movies of the previous year until it was time to watch Dick Clark… if we didn’t make it to midnight and fell asleep… no biggie, we were already in “bed.”

-Tuesday night was No TV night and Family Game Night.

-In the summer we tried to have picnics once a week.

-On vacations my brother and I would take turns buying each other gifts or souvenirs. We rarely bought ourselves anything but always got what we wanted 😉

-My mom always made our Halloween costumes…

(This was both my brothers favorite and my favorite costumes ever… Tiger and the Princess)

Oh man… I am just sure I am forgetting some things….
Oh well, my mother reads my blog so I’m sure she’ll remind me.

There are also some things I remember my parents, particularly my Dad, always saying…. not quite traditions but they stuck.

-When we’d leave for vacation, finally, after finding the last bag, remembering to turn out the lights etc he’d always say “We’re off like a herd of turtles”

-When driving he’d tell us whoever saw a cow first owed him $10…. If you’ve ever driven through Florida you realize this was a clever way to keep us hunched over and quiet with our eyes covered for a while. We never did pay him….

-Eventually as we got older and cleverer we would say they weren’t cows they were short necked giraffes or long legged pigs or what not.

-When we got in the mountain and inevitably saw sings that say “Watch for Falling Rock” my father would tell us the story of Princess Falling Rock. How she ran way from home to be with her one true love and her father was still looking for her to this day, thus the signs.

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4 responses to “Family Traditions

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  1. ***REINDEER FOOD*** Every year we make this.. What you need : 1 plastic baggy per child. 1 bag of Oatmeal per child. Couple of Different Glitters with shakers… Simply add the Oatmeal to the bag. Have your child do a couple shakes of each color… Close the bag and SHAKE!!!! Have them sprinkle the food in the yard where you want Santa to come….. We figure this way they will know where to land and while Santa is busy inside they get a special treat! The kids LOVE it and adults get a kick out of watching them do it… Happy to pass this along… My mom started this with my kids and its something they really look foward to every year!

  2. Growing up in a Scandinavian/Lutheran family, Christmas Eve was always bigger than Christmas Day. On Christmas Eve, we’d go to church, then come home and have a dinner or appetizer like things, then we’d open presents. All the presents under the tree. And playing records of Christmas music was usually included. Then for Christmas Day, we’d get up and see “what Santa left us.” Then go to church late morning. Then the afternoon was nap time, and for the last 15 years or so, we’d go to a movie together. But Christmas day was always way more relaxed.

    For Easter we would make “nests” out of our clothes. Like you put a t-shirt flat on the ground, then roll another t-shirt and a pair of jeans, and lay them around the t-shirt on the ground to form a “nest”. Then the Easter Bunny would fill the nests. We’d then have breakfast together and go to church. After church we’d have an egg hunt with the eggs we dyed. That was always real fun. And outside egg hunt.

    Halloween was always big at my place because of my sister. In 4th grade she made a haunted house using two card tables, some sheets, and it consisted of a huge rubber spider, peeled grapes, and spaghetti. Within a few years her haunted house was half our basement. And by the time we were in high school, it was the entire basement. And she’d make her own gravestones that she’d carve with clay and fire in a kiln. She had a fog machine. She made a Phantom of the Opera organ out of some foam plaster. She made her own latex vampire and zombie masks. And my parents would participate by dressing up as a zombie or werewolf, and jump out. My mom would either spray water at people going through or silly string. That was always right at the end. Everyone had to go one at a time. If they couldn’t handle going through by themselves, then it was my job to go with them. I knew when things were jumping out, so I’d maneuver them so they’d be on the side where that happened. Ha ha. =) But we’d always have friends over for halloween for this. And we’d bob for apples, dress up, of course, watch The Halloween That Almost Wasn’t (which I think is from the 70s, but we’d taped it off TV) and Mr. Boogedy (taped off the Disney channel).

    On Sundays after church we’d always have tuna sandwiches for lunch.

    Friday nights were family nights, so we would play games, order pizza, and watch movies. I know Labyrinth was the Friday movie a LOT.

    I remember having soda and special snacks after coming home on the first day of every school year. I think the last day of the school year was also special. I know one time we went to the Space Needle in Seattle for dinner.

    That’s all I can think of off-hand, though I’m sure there’s more.

    I want to implement a tradition of spam musubi on Christmas Eve, and yorkshire pudding on Thanksgiving. Oh, the last few years, Thanksgiving has been a holiday where Chris and I don’t travel to visit family, but just relax. And eat food, of course. When we lived in the community house, Thanksgiving was the eating all day long holiday. And the never changing out of pajamas holiday. We’d have homemade cinnamon rolls, then watch a movie. Have some dips and crackers and bread, watch a movie, then get food ready for dinner, while maybe watching another movie, and then eat dinner. It was really fun. I always looked forward to Thanksgiving in that house.

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