This post series comes out once a month and it takes a peek into different areas of our home, relationship and life.
This month’s topic for Let’s Look is taking a peek at our Favorite Traditions!
In case you missed them, here are my previous Let’s Look posts:
- Let’s Look: Holiday Decor Storage
- Let’s Look: Meal Plan
- Let’s Look: Outdoor Organization
- Let’s Look: Fridge & Pantry
- Let’s Look: Perfect Night In
- Let’s Look: Love Language
- Let’s Look: Coffee Bar Area
Okay, friends the planner in me LOVES having traditions! I’m a routine person and I enjoy having planned activities and traditions to look forward to on a weekly, monthly or yearly basis.
Thoughts on having Traditions…
Traditions can be such a blessing for busy moms whether you’re a working mama or a stay at home mom. As moms, I feel like we all have the “mom guilt” in some form during different seasons of life. Having traditions in place is a perfect way to be intentional with how you spend your time as a family. Knowing what to expect on a weekly, monthly or yearly basis helps you to plan ahead, get the activity or ritual on the calendar and make sure you are supplied with what you need.
My Childhood Traditions
When I think back on my childhood, I had a pretty typical happy family life. Both sides of my family lived in California so we celebrated the holidays the same way every single year. Thanksgiving was always at our home and we hosted both my moms and my dads families. We also ate the exact same meal on Thanksgiving and Christmas. During December we always visited Santa at South Coast Plaza and took pictures with Santa wearing our holiday outfits. We always attended our “camping group” Christmas party. This Christmas party was special, all the wives were either sisters or were in college sororities together. Santa always visited our party and delivered a gift to each child and we sang the 12 Days of Christmas. All of us kids grew up together, we went on a camping trip to Shaver Lake every Summer, we went on ski trips, and had lots of Mother/kid outings . On Christmas Eve, we went to my Grandma Marge’s home (my moms mother) and had dinner with my Aunt Cathy and her family and with my Uncle Mark. On Christmas Day, we would drive up to my Aunt Diane’s home in Pasadena with my Grammy (dad’s mom) and have a Christmas dinner. These were some of my holiday traditions growing up.
The cool thing about traditions is you can keep some of the ones you grew up with and add new ones that work well for your family. In my opinion, when you have certain traditions on “autopilot” it takes the stress and worry out of thinking up new things to do all the time. Having traditions that you always do as a family creates a culture within your home, this is who we are and these are things we look forward to doing together.
Random Family Traditions
Now for an example of a tradition that we do on a weekly basis….Family Fun Night!
Boys all snuggled and ready to watch a movie!
This is where we dedicate having one night every weekend when we have fun as a family. Which night we do this on can change based on sports games or with what activity we do but right now we either have pizza or In n Out (boom one night per week I always know what we are eating) and we watch a movie. We used to have a dance party after the movie and now we only sometimes do. I wanted to create a habit of always dedicating one night to be just our little family and it’s a fun tradition that we all look forward to.
A tradition we do on a monthly basis is Game Night.
Dinner with my parents before playing a board game all together.
This happens right now once a month but I would like it to be weekly or a couple times a month. We have my parents over for dinner and then we all play a board game. It’s a nice and easy way to incorporate the grandparents in on some family fun.
We have other simple traditions like, eating off the “you are special plate” on your birthday.
One tradition my boys both love is on the last day of school they each get to pick out where to go for a special treat.
Luke wanted ice cream!
Tyler wanted donuts!
We have a tradition of having dinner all together every night we can (if it doesn’t interfere with sports practices). We always pray before we eat and take turns on who leads prayer. Then the boys do rock, paper, scissors to see who goes first and they will say their high, low, and what they are thankful for. This also helps Jason and I as parents to see how their day went and most of the time it opens the conversations up to meaningful communication. Then Jason and I do R, P, S to see who goes first and we share the same three things. This has become a very meaningful nightly tradition for our family.
Luckly, Jason and I are both family oriented like minded people so we have meshed well in this area. However, our holidays do not look the same each year contrary to how I grew up and thats okay. I actually enjoy changing things up and eating different dishes at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Jason’s parents and his only brother and his family live in Florida. In the past we have gone to Florida for either Thanksgiving or Christmas but mostly for Thanksgiving because well that’s been easier on “Santa”.
Last time we were in Florida for Christmas was 2016 and we were there for New Years too!
Thanksgiving this year was in Florida!
Even though where we will be during the holidays may change each year, we have traditions during the holiday season that keep our family on track to ensure we’re consistent in making memories together.
During the month of November we have the tradition of doing a craft that highlights what we are thankful for and I tend to make soups on Sundays (I have tons of soup recipes on my blog).
We have the tradition of going to the pumpkin patch or somewhere festive with pumpkins.
In December, we have a lot of traditions, no surprise there! We decorate gingerbread houses,
we go visit Santa and wear our holiday clothes (kept this tradition from my childhood) my parents always join us.
Mission Viejo Mall
South Coast Plaza Mall
Our boys receive Advent Calendars from their Elf, Elfis on December 1st.
We have a tradition of driving to go see Christmas lights in Nellie Gail, Mission Viejo.
The boys receive matching Christmas pajamas every year.
We schedule a family Christmasy outing every year and this tradition changes on what we do but we always do something special together. For example, this year we’re going out to dinner in Dana Point and then walking around the harbor to see all the lights….mama wants a picture under the lite up “kiss me” sign, lol.
Attending a drive through light show “Light of the World” in Lake Forest, CA.
Sherman Gardens in Newport Beach
We have a tradition of going over to my Aunt Diane’s in Newport Beach to watch the boat parade and eat chili with all the cousins.
Every weekend during the holiday season we watch a festive movie. This month we started with Polar Express.
We have a tradition to do a sleepover with our friend besties, Cole, Megan and Hendrix. We exchange gifts and each year we do something different to celebrate Christmas…this year we will be making and decorating sugar cookies and sipping on Hot Toddy’s while Jason makes his first paella on his own. His dad just passed on the recipe and taught him and his brother Christian how to make it over Thanksgiving break.
Lastly, I try to suck it up and do some type of holiday baking of cookies each year with the boys too (baking is not my forte, I’m a cook).
As far as Christmas Eve, we attend mass and we’ll have dinner at my parents this year, with my brother and his family, my Aunt Diane, and with my cousin Whitney and her son Jodey. We change around who hosts (we all like this new tradition). Changing around who hosts takes off the pressure of always being on the same person. Plus, it adds variety to what we eat and drink and I enjoy it!
Last year was at my brother Forrie and Colleen’s home.
Christmas morning is always just our family and we enjoy a leisurely morning and have breakfast with the same sweet rolls I grew up eating. We tend to have my parents and my Aunt Diane over for Christmas dinner. However, this year we’re leaving the day after Christmas to meet Jason’s family in Utah to go skiing, so my parents will be hosting dinner instead.
My late Grandmother, Grammy. She lived to be 101 1/2 (d. 2017) and she loved Christmas just as much as I do, she was also huge on tradition. The majority of my childhood memories were with my Grammy, I always miss her so much this time of year.
I think it’s important to have traditions but to keep in mind being flexible once your families grow and involve lots of people. This can be a sensitive topic and I know some have big struggles in meeting everyone’s expectations. It hasn’t always been smooth sailing with my family, especially after my brother and I first got married. Not everyone likes to change up their traditions. BUT Communication, being politely direct, and compromising is usually whats needed as you make traditions work for your family and extended family.
Christmas Eve dinner with my mom’s side of the family.
Final Thoughts on Traditions
If you’d like to create more traditions for your family, I suggest starting small with a game night, a sundae night or a movie night and see what works for your family. If it goes well, continue doing it and make it a tradition. Then if say, Sunday Sundae’s works make sure you always have the supplies on hand to create that weekly tradition. Jason and I discus earlier in the week what movie we’ll watch as a family, gotta make sure you have the right streaming device nowadays.
Honestly, I love this topic because I live for these special moments with family and friends. I think it’s good to have things to look forward to, whether its on a weekly, monthly or yearly basis. Children do well with routine, therefore, traditions work well for families. Now, if that old tradition that you had as a kid no longer works or isn’t a good fit for your family, I say you should have no problem in dropping it or making some changes for it to work for your family or in-laws, etc. I still want to continuing making new traditions as the seasons of life change. One area that I want to incorporate more is doing charity activities with the boys…i’m all ears on ideas!
Bottom line, traditions should be fun, they should bring you together as a family, and everyone should look forward to it (minus the traditions that involve family pics, sometimes you just need to do it for the hard-working mama!!!).
Traditions create community within your home because at the heart of every family tradition is a meaningful experience! “Traditions touch us, they connect us, and they expand us” – Rita Barreto Craig