I am really getting more and more into traditions.  I had some growing up, but it was more of where we would go when and not so much what we would do.  For example, it was always a given on Christmas Day that we would go to my Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  I like the idea of knowing where we are going on what day, but I also really like the idea of having fun things to do at home that are a given.  I want my children to grow up remembering these traditions and to want to come home to mom and dad (even when they are older and we are no longer super).  I want to be able to reminisce with them and form lots of special memories.  I really think this helps us all bond too.  As our children get older, we are open to their ideas too!

Here are a few traditions we have already started here:

Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas countdowns.  These are really simple!  For Halloween and Christmas it is a long paper chain (black and orange / red and green) to a pumpkin or Christmas tree.  Each day we take off a chain link and count the number of days until the upcoming holiday.  This has also been a good way to get some more practice counting.  For Thanksgiving, I just made a turkey body out of a paper grocery bag and crafted some paper turkey feathers.  Each day we take off a turkey feather and count again.

Birthday (for our daughter only, not for us, although a tradition for us is in the works…)  She gets to wear her birthday crown, have whatever she wants to eat (including if she wants birthday cake and ice cream for breakfast), open presents, wears a sewn by mama birthday shirt and do whatever fun activity she would like to do for the day (the last two years we have just picked the zoo for her, but this coming birthday she will pick).  We also hang a mama sewn fabric birthday banner.  We also make sugar cookies cut out into the year (for example, last year was 2 and this year is going to be 3).  (Thanks to my sister for this cute little tradition!)  My husband even got ’30’ cookies last year!

*Christmas:  We always go to my mom’s on Christmas Eve to eat and open presents.  First thing in the morning we open our stockings, eat breakfast and open presents.  Then, late morning my husband’s side of the family comes over.  We watch the Christmas Story (typically while our daughter has napped as it is on over and over again for 24 hours on TBS I think).  We play cards, open presents, eat lunch and supper, and just enjoy each others company.

Christmas tree:  Last year was the first year we ditched our artificial tree for a ‘real’ tree.  I’m so glad we did.  We just went and picked one off the lot.  We will definitely get another ‘real’ tree, but I’m not sure if we will just get one off the lot or cut one down…to be decided.

* Easter:  I cut out paper bunnies and our daughter searches the house for them.  She loves this!  Each year it will get more challenging and fun (for her and us).  She finds her Easter basket and also some mama sewn fabric eggs.  We then head over to my sister-in-law and brother-in-laws house for an Easter lunch and egg hunt.  We had been going to my side of the family for Easter for as long as I can remember, but I have to say we really enjoyed ourselves so much last year that we will now start going to my husband’s side.  (My side has so many gatherings that it is nice for a change of pace.  Plus, it makes my husband happy.  I think he has always felt like his family gets left out of the holidays and I don’t want him to feel like that.)  Leading up to Easter, we also dye Easter eggs.  Last year I made the egg dye and it turned out really good (cheaper too).

Valentines Day:  I really want to keep this about love and friends.  Not so much about romantic love, but about loving and being thankful for all the love and support in your life.  We have a special Valentines Day dinner and our daughter gets a few special things (I think last year she got a book or two and some small treats).  My husband and I might exchange a small gift like chocolate or his favorite beer, but no big bouquets of flowers or romantic dinners here.  I also make Valentines Day cookies in the shape of a heart.  Our daughter will be more involved in this process this year.  I also cut out paper hearts for our daughter to find, just like we do at Easter.

Oktoberfest:  We just started celebrating the last day of Oktoberfest this year.  My husband is half German and I really want to bring some cultural awareness into our lives.  We just celebrated this year with Oktoberfest beer (for my husband) and a German dinner.  There are some activities that we may try in the future, but this year was just the start.

Footprint and Handprint Christmas Ornament:  The daycare our daughter attended her first year made us this cute little fabric ornament using our daughter’s hand and footprints.  I am continuing that.  I have the 2007 one (from daycare) and I made a 2008 one.  I will make the 2009 one sometime in mid-December.  I’m not sure if we will hang these on the tree or if we will do some kind of display.  We will see.

What we want to start implementing:

St. Nick’s Day:  I really loved this thought and think it is something easy and fun to implement.  We will leave a pair of shoes out on the night of December 5th and see what St. Nick brings us in the morning.  This is yet another way to celebrate our German (not mine) heritage.

Cookies for Santa:  We will be leaving Santa cookies this year too and a glass of milk of course.  Not sure if we will pick a cookie that Santa will have every year or if it will vary…we will see.

Advent Calendar:  I found a tutorial last year on a cute little felt advent calendar and sewed it back in September or so.  I have all the presents wrapped and ready to go for this.  Super excited to start this tradition.

Thanksgiving ‘What I Am Thankful For Tree’:  We are going to get a medium-sized branch and I’ll cut out construction paper leaves and we will all write down things we are thankful for during the month of November.  Hopefully, we will have a full tree by Thanksgiving.

Birthdays:  We will expand the birthday celebrations to my husband and I.  We will get to pick what we want to eat that day (since my birthday is in a week, I plan to pick orange juice, french toast, coq au vin, chocolate cake and ice cream…two flavors) and some place we would like to go.  This year I’m picking the zoo, because they have a free family day and honestly, it is the only way I’m getting my husband to go for a 2 plus hour drive to a zoo that will be crowded.  We will also start watching home movies this year. 

Kids Day:  My husband had this tradition growing up.  Somehow he and his two siblings conned their parents into having a Kids Day, because of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.  Kid’s Day was always right before they went back to school in the Fall.  They each got a gift and did something special.  This sounds like fun to me.  I love giving gifts and having something fun to look forward too.  I’m sure we will keep it semi simple.  It would be really great if I could make a special breakfast, lunch and dinner for each of them (or maybe just a special dinner).  I would definitely be a short order cook that day, but with a little planning, I’m sure it would all work out.

Giving to needy families.  We would like to start some kind of tradition to give to others.  I’m not sure what this will look like yet.  It could be a toy for Toys for Tots or a blanket for Project Linus or even volunteering somewhere.  We will see, but something I definitely want to instill in my children.

What are some of your traditions?????


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