Making Memories Through Mindful Family Traditions

When I think back to some of my favorite memories as a kid, it’s usually related to a tradition.  And with the holiday season coming up, now is a great time to create your own family traditions!

One of my favorite traditions was how we celebrated Christmas for many years.  My family used to go to Ankeny on Christmas Eve and spend the day & night with my Dad’s family.  We would eat oyster soup (and by we, I mean the adults), make hanky pankies (little cheesy hamburgers on rye), play Pitch, and go to bed reading this big book of Christmas stories my Grandma Sheila had.  Then in the morning, we would wake up and open all our presents.  Afterward, we would get in the car and head 1 hour North to Webster City to spend Christmas Day with my Mom’s family. We spent almost 3 hours opening presents one at a time, stopping to snack, tell stories, or try out our new gifts. 

I cherish those memories in my heart.

If you think back on your childhood you may think of a special memory like this. These memories may include traditions or one-off fun things your family did together. Really, they don’t even have to be big things.  It might be something as simple as taking a picture each year on the first day of school, watching a movie every holiday season or eating a special treat during Thanksgiving.

Making Memories Through Mindful Family Traditions

I wanted those special memories for my kids, and I realized that I needed to be mindful to create those experiences. As a kid you may not have realized your parents were putting in the work to create family traditions, but I’ve come to realize that’s how they truly happen.

So if you need to create your own traditions here are some easy steps:

1. Find something you want to become a tradition. 

This could be an activity that your family did with you or an idea you’ve seen somewhere else. Something as simple as drinking coffee on Thanksgiving morning while watching the parade and eating donuts before your big meal could be a great memory for your kids!

2. Be mindful to maintain the tradition

You may have to put in the effort to make this happen or even need to skip something else to allow for it to occur each year.  I started a tradition 2 years ago where I wanted to spend Christmas Eve night at home, letting my kids open one present after church. However, one of my family’s celebrations is always that same night in Marion.  We had to decide to skip that celebration each year to make this tradition our own instead.

3. Don’t obsess over perfection

You may put in a lot of effort to make this perfect, and it may turn out differently than what you imagined because a kid is grouchy or you get a speeding ticket on the way to Grandma’s.  Don’t worry! Enjoy the moment and let it go. Twenty years from now your kid probably won’t remember that day but will still remember the family traditions you created overall.

Think. Prepare. Commit. Enjoy! Happy holiday season everyone!

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  1. Great article and Thanks for reminding us of the important things at the holidays. Traditions are nice, oyster soup was in our family too. An orange and apple in our stocking, beautiful hand tied bows on packages, my grandmas homemade bread, and many more. Nice to stop and remember. Have a great holiday!

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