The dictionary definition of the word tradition is “an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior”. Sound familiar? Hmm, like the customary behavior of every toddler we’ve had, that whenever we reach the point in the grocery store that is the furthest distance from the bathroom, they insist that they have to pee and cannot hold it? Or the established action of my youngest son to scream loudly when his older siblings don’t give him his way? Are these really our traditions? Oh man, we need to make some changes if these are the things that come to mind when I read the definition of tradition. Maybe I’ve just had a bad week.
During the holidays my husband and I were recently talking about traditions from our own childhood. Some were big deals, like vacations or what we did with our families around the holidays, but the smaller ones seemed to mean the most, the ones that weren’t forced or planned but just happened.
With the new year on everyones’ minds, you may be thinking of continuing old traditions or starting new ones. A few traditions that we have made over the past few years are “a lunch date with Daddy on your birthday," “slumber parties in Mommy and Daddy’s bed,” and “choose your favorite dinner on your birthday." When our daughter was younger, she loved having Daddy pick her up from school and take her ANYWHERE she wanted to go--they mostly ended up at McDonald's. She’s more sophisticated now and she saves her date for a weekend so they can go some place nicer. One year, my son was so excited about choosing the entire meal for his birthday dinner and to my surprise we had steamed broccoli, cheese quesadillas, and pineapple. A few other traditions that we have is that the kids buy or make thoughtful gifts for each other for Christmas (they have gotten really good at this as they’ve gotten older), we have family game nights in front of the fire, and we do scavenger hunts for the children’s birthday gifts.
While I really want to establish--or should I say, force--more traditions, I guess the most memorable ones will just happen on their own; like looking for beach glass, rocks, and drift wood as we walk the beach, riding our bikes to get ice-cream, eating by the fire at Cracker Barrel after sledding, Daddy fixing a breakfast of grilled peanut butter sandwiches with hot cocoa, carving unique pumpkins and baking the seeds, making huge snowmen and elaborate snow-forts together.
Our kids are quick to inform and include our foster kiddos in these family traditions and for our older foster kiddos, they quickly cling to our fun traditions and routine like it is precious gold. That always amazes me and makes me realize how important traditions are for all children. Traditions are not necessarily just about what we do, but more about the warm and fuzzy feeling we get when we look back on them, knowing that we are part of a family full of love and happiness, and for some kids a dose of that feeling can go a long way!
Jamie is a 34 year old mama to three kiddos, an 11 year old girl and two boys ages 9 and 7. She has been married to her husband, Max for 14 years. Their family has been doing foster care for almost 4 years.