26 Sep General Family Traditions
Every Easter we have the tradition of painting easter eggs. We hardboil some eggs and use paints to color them. We blow out other eggs and use wax and paint to create eggs we can keep. Traditionally we paint these eggs on Good Friday. Then on Easter Sunday we play a game with one of our hardboiled colored eggs. We place it on a towel on the floor. We get three quarters and ask everyone to try to throw the coins into the egg by standing a meter/yard away from the egg. We put a rope on the floor that everyone must stand behind. It takes some time and good aim, but we do manage to have people who can lodge the quarter into the egg. It’s a lot of fun and the winner gets some special chocolate.
In the fall, our family buys fresh chestnuts from the market. We drill a small hole through the centre of each chestnut through which we thread and tie a sturdy string about 18 inches long. We do this with several chestnuts for our traditional family game. Two people play the game. Each has a string with a chestnut hanging on it. One person holds their string and allows their chestnut to dangle. The other person holds their string in one hand and their chestnut in the other hand, trying to throw the chestnut at their opponent’s chestnut in order to hit it. If they hit the other chestnut, they continue hitting in an attempt to crack/break the opponent’s chestnut. If they miss, the opponent gets a chance. The game continues in the hope that one person breaks the other’s chestnut. It’s a game of skill and with practice can create a lot of chestnut damage.
When cold winter weather arrives, it’s our family tradition to do puzzles. We get out a board and place the pieces on top. Everyone helps whenever they have a moment. When the puzzle is not needed, we lift the board up and put it away. We pick up a lot of second hand puzzles at inexpensive prices over the summer and find this a great family past time in the winter months. Supposedly ToysRus sells a mat for puzzles that can be easily rolled and stored with no movement to the puzzle pieces. Winter also is the time of year when we play more board games and card games as a family.
At the beginning of most summers, our family sets aside a Saturday and makes our own sausages for the BBQ. We buy some ground pork from the butcher and casings, find some great recipes on the internet and create quite the selection using a simple hand operated cast iron meat grinder. We have even invited other families to join us for the occasion and we celebrate by grilling some up and enjoying a great meal together.
I tried to think of some ideas of tradition. One is that whoever has a birthday can decide on a family program that everybody has to do together. All family members have to participate, it can be hiking, playing a certain game, watching a certain movie together etc.
Another one is the idea of a gift box. You have a box on the shelf. In this box you have individual gift ideas for yourself (things you would like to get such as book titles, music, etc) If a family member is out of ideas they can go in the box and check what they could get for the birthday person. Also, duplicate presents can be avoided by taking the item you purchased out.
We sometimes make slideshows for the birthday person.
We love to go strawberry picking every June, and apple picking every September. It gets us all out in the fresh air, working together, taking special pictures, and enjoying the taste of fresh produce.
I have a lot of boys who love to skateboard. We have a great skateboard park in the area which my boys love. However I am not comfortable with the language, example and behavior of many of those who hang out at this park. So our tradition in the summer has been that we wake up early, pack a breakfast to enjoy in the car (muffins) and some drinks and get there early, ie. 8:00 a.m. My daughter and I sip hot chocolate or tea in our folding chairs, watching the boys, while my daughter plays with her toys. This has worked for quite a while and by the time the first teens arrive, we have had our fill and are ready to pack up.
Also, we started a few years ago to use a small porcelain hand bell that we ring for supper. I ask whoever is nearby to grab it, go around the house and politely inform everyone it’s supper time. It took a bit of getting used to but now avoids anyone having to yell. It puts us all in a better mood when we sit down to say grace.
Our family has a weekly games’ night. After we finish our supper chores, we all gather together in the living room or dining room to play board games, or card games or ping pong. As younger children go to bed, we then opt for an older kind of game. It has become a night everyone looks forward to, no matter what their age. We laugh, talk, get excited when we win, learn to lose, and most of all spend time together.
I love that every Sunday evening, our family prays together the rosary. In the summer, we may opt to pray it outside by the water, or watch the sunset. From October till Easter, we pray in our living room while the fireplace is going. We do not focus on people’s posture or whether they are still or not. We pray together for all our friends, relatives and concerns. Once done, the young ones go to bed, and we celebrate teenage tea time. All the teens enjoy a cup of tea and a game of Euchre or Hearts with each other and mom and dad. It’s a special time where we chat, laugh and stay up longer than usual. It has brought us all closer in the teenage stage.
We have the tradition of writing down memorable moments in an inexpensive journal that is kept in the kitchen. Every so often something happens that is hilarious, out of the ordinary, or quite memorable. Quickly, mom gets the journal and jots down the memory, whether in point form or as a paragraph, noting the age of the participants. Then when holidays happen, especially at Christmas time, we pull out the journal and read the recordings. Does it ever evoke good memories, laughter and family bonding. Now our youngest recounts antics from the oldest, as if she were around when he was growing up. It’s the funniest thing, but a great tradition that I’m glad we started.
We have a bunch of boys. I’m so happy that my husband has made many traditions of going out with them as a group and individually to shoot pool in the cold months, mountain bike in warmer weather, go tent camping and canoeing. These moments anchor my boys and give them special time with dad.
In my family, we have only girls. My husband presents each of them with a bouquet of flowers first thing in the morning on their birthday and tells his daughter what a beautiful princess she is and how much he loves her.
Out of the blue, we also randomly select days to honor someone in the house for no reason. For example, I may make a special dessert and say today is so and so’s special day. As we eat dessert, everyone takes turns saying why that person is special and loved. Does this ever lift the person up. We just have to make sure everyone gets equal opportunities over the course of time for this special day.
In our house, dad takes each of the kids out for breakfast usually three times a year and then either returns them home or drops them off at school. We have found some inexpensive family run diners that make this outing affordable and special for one on one conversation. Usually, he will combine preschool children for the breakfast to make it easier.
We have an annual thanksgiving hike that lasts a couple of hours at a local provincial park. We pack drinks, snacks and head out, making it back in time for a great meal. Oftentimes friends join us. It is great to see the leaves change color, the blue lakes and enjoy nature.
We also use the thanksgiving weekend to split wood for our fireplace. Our young adult sons invite their male friends over and they all enjoy learning how to use an ax and chainsaw. Together they do all the work and we treat them with a great BBQ and drinks. This has become a tradition everyone looks forward to and our group of young men has grown over the years.
On Valentine’s my husband buys me a dozen roses, and he presents each of my daughters with a single rose and my sons with a bag of Doritos, telling each of us how much he loves us.
Our family goes out trick or treating each Halloween in homemade costumes. We love to meet all our neighbours and spend time talking to them. When we all get home, all the candy gets put in one big pile on the kitchen table. Everyone is allowed 15 minutes to eat what they want. Then we put it into a chip box, candy box, drink box. Each day after school, this is snack and dessert. Everyone brushes their teeth really well. Our aim is to get rid of it all within a week, which we do. The kids think we are super cool and we have fewer cavities, fewer fights and no one hoarding or hiding their candy.
I take all my girls, school age and older, camping every summer with my sister. We use this time to really connect with my girls, have great campfires, sing songs, and silly moments. They enjoy that none of their brothers are allowed to come. I enjoy being with my sister and having my girls come to love their aunt even more. I see my older girls now turn to her for advice, which I am super thrilled about.
When our kids were small we had a movie night every Friday night, computer night on Saturdays before we all watched hockey on TV, and then Sunday morning, the kids who woke up first, got to watch the Friday movie over again. The early risers would find this a treat, but more importantly, my husband and I would have a chance to sleep in.
Sunday morning we would have a pajama breakfast after which many of the little kids would come into our bedroom and play with dad in the bed under the blankets. They loved this time of tickling, cuddling, tossing, grabbing, wrestling. It made the bed a mess but made for excellent memories.
We also had it that when anyone in the family had been away for a while, they would return home to a welcome home sign. We might use chalk to draw it on the driveway, or on the garage door. We might use water paints to paint it on a window by the front door, or on the kitchen sliding doors. Or we might make a sign and hang it up in a prominent spot. It always made the person returning feel appreciated and loved.
Few of our traditions were costly, we had to be very careful to make ends meet. We found our joy in ordinary activities, family birthday celebrations (children chose their favorite menu) and the same for religious milestones.
Winter weekends(early dark) after a fresh fall of snow, we packed everyone plus sliding saucers into the car (this was before seat belts outlawed large families), bound for our favorite slope on the Plains of Abraham. We sang in the car (lustily, often discordantly, no matter) In winter we would go for walks all together. I pulled the baby in the baby sleigh and the others were pulled by my husband on the toboggan, some liked to walk with Daddy around the neighborhood, followed by toast, cocoa and bed. We made angels in fresh snow, shoveled the walks and driveway together. Since we lived on a cul de sac my engineer husband befriended the evening snow cleaners encouraging them to push and blow fresh snow onto the vacant lot at the end. They were family men and smilingly complied. Every winter he and the older children would sculpt St. Moritz flying saucer runs there. The older kids vied to test it for safety for the littler ones of course. As winter progressed the saucer slide naturally it became more impressive and challenging, packed and slick. The children became more inventive and daring in their descents. My husband took advantage of each midwinter thaw to make a rink in the backyard, scene of many impromptu hockey skirmishes, a good place for toddlers to learn to skate with a chair. We had guests for skating parties. For the sake of the neighbors a friend skilled in carpentry built a tree house for us. We had a much appreciated pulley glide across the backyard, and a heavy rope, strategically knotted helped the adventurous climb high in a stout tree. I was always astonished that our property could possibly as good as it did for so many years despite being a playground for the neighborhood for so many years.
I had been taught as a child to enjoy thunderstorms. To help our own youngsters enjoy them we would spread old picnic blankets on the front lawn near the house and lie on our backs watching God’s display and counting the seconds between the clap of thunder and the flash, the kids pretending to make magic. When the danger was close or at the first drops of rain we would quickly gather children and blankets and run into the house, breathless and laughing.
We have the tradition of packing a picnic every Sunday when the weather is warm and eating at a park, by the waterfront, or some special place. The fresh air is great. The scenery delightful and there is no kitchen to clean up and few dishes to wash. It has become a great tradition in our household.
We take our kids every Sunday after nap time for a hike in the country somewhere. It is great to get out of the city, move, talk, see nature, and be together. We go no matter if it is raining, sunny, or snowing. In the winter, we pull the little ones on sleds. The children have been delighted to see all kinds of birds, deer, chipmunks and the odd snake. We always pack something to drink, a snack and some fruit. In the summer, we would take a picnic supper so that we can stay longer. It is nice to also come home to a clean kitchen and not have any work.
Our family loves to sing. After supper, as we clean up, someone begins a song and slowly everyone joins it. It can be a simple song like Mary Had a Little Lamb or something quite elaborate. It changes the whole mood and brings enjoyment to everyone.
As a child growing up, I so enjoyed my family and it’s musical celebrations. We all had piano lessons, some violin and another drums. We loved to come together as a family, especially in the colder months, and play together various compositions. It was a lot of fun with my brothers and sisters to try to harmonize and pull it off. Now that I am starting my own family, I hope to develop musical talent as well.
When our kids were growing up, my husband and I made a decision to not watch television because there was so little time together as a family before children went to sleep. Instead, we began some traditions. I would go to the library every 3 weeks and take out 30-40 books so that everyone would have something to look at, read and enjoy. We also took out different Cds of a variety of music to expose our children to. We made it a habit of going out for a walk or bike ride after supper in the summer months. In the winter, we would flood our backyard and have the children skate as much as they wanted. It made for great memories and good use of our time.
Jamaican and Belizean Families….(my future husband who has never married is Belizean)…both are families of English-speaking countries in the Caribbean and Central America and like the traditions of eating certain food dishes on certain days of the week. Some of it is cultural for the entire country like in Belize all families must have Chicken on a Sunday. However, in my Jamaican family we have the tradition of eating for breakfast on a Friday morning ripe banana fritters (best described as banana pancakes) as a good way to get rid of the overripe bananas bought the previous Friday evening that remain in the house and before buying fresh bananas at the shop on a Friday evening or the market on a Saturday morning.
Lots of Caribbean families always have particular dishes and desserts that the family members enjoy as well. My family particularly enjoy moist puddings like sweet potato pudding, bread pudding, and the favorite Rich Christmas Fruit Pudding. My dad, in particular, loves plantain tarts.
Board game nights. These have lasted for many years, starting when they were younger than 10 years old. Now they continue after family celebrations at Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, and some birthdays, as a way to bring friends and long lost cousins together for an evening of fun.
Planting seeds in the depths of winter blues in March. Collecting egg cartons to plant seeds in and place them in a window to watch and tend during the growing light.
Saying grace together before evening meals, no matter who is in attendance.
Creating Christmas and Easter outfits for attendance at Mass, especially the girls together.
Bottling homemade wine and beer together a couple of times a year.
From Mary (grandmother)
A lot of our family traditions have become extinct because of the family situation. When they grow up and leave home it is not so easy to continue traditions.The one thing that I will not change is that we are always here for any special occasions, such as Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving.This fall there is a pilgrimage advertised to Rome over Thanksgiving. When I was asked if we would be interested, I replied that it is interesting, but I have no interest in going anywhere at that time.The same as trips to New York City are often over Easter. I will not go then because of the Holy Week celebrations or because I want to be here for Easter Sunday dinner whether we have all the family, people that have no where to go for the holiday or if we are just the two of us. We want to be available.
For birthdays, my husband always writes a special message on the blank half of the inside of the birthday card which takes up the whole page , telling that child how proud we are of his growth as a person of faith and asking God to continue to guide him. The recipient has to read the message aloud to the rest of his brothers, amid a fair amount of good-natured teasing but they are all used to doing it after so many years. The card will be put in the person’s box of special keepsakes. We celebrate Baptismal days rather simply with a cake or brownies, just something to mark the day as a day of second birth.
We have our Fri family rosary and movie night. …everyone is eager to start the rosary!!
We have a special traditional Easter meal. The day before, we take a portion of everything we will eat and bring it to the Church for a special Easter blessing. It is the first thing that is served at our Easter celebration.