Sometimes I hear women lament, “Oh, I wish I knew how to create traditions in our family.”

What they don’t realize is they have made more traditions than they recognize. Let me tell you why.

I’m sure my parents never intended to create a Christmas tradition but they did. In our small home in Norwalk, California, where I spent most of my childhood, the living room separated the bedrooms from the kitchen. The Christmas tree was placed in the living room and in our family, Santa brought unwrapped gifts on Sunday morning. That was great! 

The difficulty was that my mother insisted we three children eat breakfast before we opened our presents. She just knew, rightly so, that once we opened our gifts we wouldn’t want to eat (and play instead) and then our little bodies would crave even more sugar than usual. Plus, we wouldn’t get our nutrition for the morning. So… how could we children get from the bedrooms on Christmas morning to the kitchen without seeing the gifts—especially the unwrapped ones Santa had brought?

Who knows who thought of it, but some adult reasoned, “Let’s carry each child from the bedroom to the kitchen and put a blanket over their heads to prevent them from seeing the gifts.” Since my single uncle usually spent the night, between he and my father, we were each carried to the kitchen, where we gobbled down our Malt-O-Meal as quickly as possible. Then we were given the go-ahead, “OK, go into the living room.”

After several years of doing that, it became a tradition! (I can hear Tevya from Fiddler on the Roof singing “Tradition!”) And I’m very sure that this Christmas, as we do every year, when my sister and I are together, we will refer at some point to that “tradition” with great fondness and a big smile. This year we’ll think of our brother Chuck who has gone on to heaven but knowing he would laugh with us if he were with us.

How about you? Are you wondering if you have traditions? First of all, think back to your own childhood and you may recognize traditions that were never intended to be traditions and yet they bring a smile to your face even now. I’m confident that you are building traditions in your family (both at Christmas and throughout the year) more than you realize.

But just in case you’re still looking for some traditions to begin, here are some ideas:

  • our family began caroling around our cul-de-sac every Christmas eve. Our neighbors began to anticipate our coming.
  • you can give each child an ornament with their name and date to hang on the tree. When they move out on their own, those ornaments are theirs to keep.
  • a variation of that is creating a family project of making ornaments that are given to friends and relatives with the date on it—along with your name.
  • at our Christmas dinner table, there is a question written on a piece of paper in front of each place setting. Each person answers their question as everyone listens. The questions refer to pleasant things like, “What is your favorite memory of this last year?” or “What is a goal you’d like to set for this coming year?”
  • set up a cookie bake with family or friends in your home or independently bake a pre-determined cookie to be shared with others who then share their baking with you.

I’m sure you can think of other “traditions” but even if you can’t, just remember that anything you do on a consistent basis is a tradition. Enjoy each one knowing you are making memories with your family.

Can you think of a tradition growing up you didn’t know was a “tradition”? I and my readers would love to hear about it!

(I’ve published on my blog this similar post so I’m declaring it’s a tradition I post it almost every year!)