I have found that an ordinary moment/day/evening can transform into tradition with a purposeful declaration that it is special and the intent that it will occur again under similar circumstances.
I am a believer in the power of traditions and ritual as I have come to understand that many of my treasured childhood memories are cemented in traditions.
Vivid memories of making food together for Thanksgiving (especially my grandmother’s jello salad), brisk icy weather as we scurried late for Christmas Eve Mass, pounding out pork for Tonkatsu and eating it straight from the pan before it ever reached the table for family dinner. I have learned over the years how important it is for me to continue loved traditions and rituals from my childhood and establish new ones for my own family.
They become the heartbeat of our families.
After getting married, Kyle and I discussed traditions that we would carry with us as we grew our own family. I remember sitting with him in the car outside of a dominos parking lot waiting for some friends to get home so we could all hang out together. It became increasingly apparent to me how important my family traditions were to reenact even as an adult. It felt necessary to have jello salad and sweet potato casserole at every Thanksgiving. I was emphatic that we hear the story of the birth of Jesus and sing Christmas hymns on Christmas eve (either at Mass or within the walls of our own home). Family dinners (even the ones where everyone was screaming) and gathering on the couch for a movie were the small ordinary ways that my family was knit together and it felt important to continue these moments within the walls of my own home.
For many years, I have observed the traditions of others and admired the many ways in which families make life special. Mental notes were made and a sense of purpose was has developed as I seek to add traditions that will create the framework of my children’s memories. Nothing too fussy or elaborate, but rather a focus on simple and purposeful ways we can make our days special.
After observing Stephanie Nielsen’s back to school feast for many years, we held our own little feast this year.
We had a simple dinner with homemade cake and ice-cream for dessert and talked about a scripture we wanted to focus on as a family for the new school year.
“And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.” – Mosiah 2:41
We discussed what that scripture meant as we ate. Being in the thick of raising a 5-year-old, much of the discussion was centered around how we are happiest when we make good choices, like listening to mom and dad and being kind to our friends and brother. He seemed to be a little more receptive to the concept with the promise of chocolate cake at the end of the evening.
Dress code was very informal this year (pants optional) but it felt so wonderful to set the table with flowers and write out the scripture so that Max could follow along as we recited it together. I imagine this tradition will stick around and evolve as our family grows. Perhaps one day pants will be required and no one will throw couscous. For now, my heartbeat thumbs louder creating one epic rhythm as our hearts are knit closer together with each special day.
I would love to know, what are some of your favorite traditions from childhood that you are carrying on in your own home?