Family Traditions

Just the word "Thanksgiving," has always evoked a fond nostalgia...the aroma of the turkey. Cranberry sauce and lace tablecloths. 

Now, I think of the local bowling alley, too. Plastic seats, light beer, and cigarette smoke. That's because, every Thanksgiving while the turkey cooks, we bowl for dollars. 

The tradition goes way back in my husband's family. A few games of bowling keeps everyone talking and laughing together. Football is on the big screen for the die-hard fans in the family. 

Our crowd grows every year. My parents joined us once and now they come each year, too.  If ever there is a relative or friend of the family whom I don't see throughout the year, I can rest assured I'll see them come Thanksgiving Day at the bowling alley. 

Family traditions are the glue that binds one generation to another. They give kids and parents something to look forward to, as well as something to count on during the hectic holiday season...and throughout the year.  Here is a collection of some  favorite family traditions.

Practice random acts of kindness. Each time a family member does a good deed, they tie a red, gold, or white ribbon on the tree. Each ornament means something, and the practice encourages giving, too. 

Give all the kids new pajamas on Christmas Eve. 

Make a family event out of choosing the Christmas tree. My husband has fond memories of that day...getting together with family and friends, finding the perfect Christmas tree, playing in the snow, and coming home to a feast.

Secret Santas. Play Secret Santa to another family or to each other. It's even more fun if the other party isn't in on the plan.

Keep a journal for your family from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Record thoughts, events, and memories. Young children can dictate stories and make collages, and they'll love writing their wish list in the journal. Then wrap it and share it on Christmas morning. Record thoughts, events, and memories. This journal is bound to be a keepsake, and you can use add to it next holiday season. 

Celebrate New Year's Eve with the family. If your kids are too young to stay up until  midnight, turn the clocks back and celebrate before their bedtime. Just before the hour, make some family resolutions. 

Year Round
Special meal menus. We have prime rib on Christmas Eve. A fondue feast between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Chicken and dumplings on my husband's birthday. Food is a great way to mark an occasion...or create a brand new occasion. 

Camping trips. Choose a special weekend of your own--it doesn't have to be the Fourth of July or Labor Day. Sleeping under the stars is a great way to regain perspective. We took our daughter on her first camping trip when she was 6 months old. She had the time of her life, and we have memories we'll never forget. 
Day trips together. In our family, everyone goes skiing on New Years Day. 

Nighttime walks. 

Songs and stories before bed.