Not Just Party Planners, Memory Makers

**Sarah writing here. This was an article written for Utah Mom Tribe**

As a little girl, we didn’t have a ton of traditions surrounding holidays or special days. But the few traditions we did have are etched on my heart and in my mind. Our traditions were simple, easy and always there. 

One of my favorite traditions was birthdays; when it was your birthday you got to choose the dinner for that night! Sometimes, I picked pancakes and bacon, other times it was pizza ordered in. There was nothing off limits when it came to birthday dinners in my house. Now, that I am the mom and have 4 kids, we have carried that same tradition over. 

Every Thanksgiving my mom makes the Jell-O salad type thing. I don’t even know what to call it. But there is whipped cream, fruit, Jell-O mix and I am sure other things! I don’t have the recipe because my mom just always makes it. Don’t get me started on her Homemade Mac ‘n Cheese. I have tried to replicate it, but I just can’t! 

All of these traditions revolve around food, but there are others that don’t. 

When I turned 16 my mom and I had a girls day. We drove to downtown Seattle and spent the entire day shopping. That was my whole birthday. It was the best day. I can still see the homecoming dress we bought and the sweater I got that eventually got washed incorrectly and ended up fitting my baby sister! 

Last year when my oldest turned 16 we got up early and drove to the airport. As we got on the airplane she was so excited. We were going to Seattle for the weekend to shop as much as we could! Having this tradition repeated with my daughter was so special. We picked out her next homecoming dress, she got a ton of tops that she loves and she has the memories of a girls trip to carry her throughout her life. 

When I became a single mom one of the most important things to me was creating traditions that would carry my kids through the holidays and birthdays we would spend apart. One thing that no one prepares you for is to spend such important days away from your children. Having traditions was for me too! 

My kids always know what is going on at home with me when they are away. They know that we will have Freezer Pumpkin Pie (if you need the recipe, keep an eye out over at The Strawberry Nest blog next week!) on Thanksgiving. Every year in June for the Summer Solstice we have a big party to celebrate the longest day of the year! On Christmas my kids know that I am at home watching Home Alone while doing the puzzle Santa brought us. 

What is the benefit of having traditions in our lives? 

  • Tradition contributes a sense of comfort and belonging. It brings families together and enables people to reconnect with friends.

  • Tradition reinforces values such as freedom, faith, integrity, a good education, personal responsibility, a strong work ethic, and the value of being selfless.

  • Tradition provides a forum to showcase role models and celebrate the things that really matter in life.

  • Tradition offers a chance to say “thank you” for the contribution that someone has made.

  • Tradition enables us to showcase the principles of our Founding Fathers, celebrate diversity, and unite as a country.

  • Tradition serves as an avenue for creating lasting memories for our families and friends.

  • Tradition offers an excellent context for meaningful pause and reflection.

(list from Frank Sonnenberg Online)

By having traditions we are creating a culture in our family that strengthens the foundation of all who are part of it. When we have traditions a sense of comfort, belonging and firm memories are made. 

As we kick off the holiday season I would love to encourage you to think about things you do every year with your family and write them down. This will help our families feel connected, feel a sense of normal and will help keep our hearts in tune with each other.

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