For generations women in my family have gathered on Christmas Eve to prepare a seven-course meal to celebrate the coming Savior. The meal is said to include foods from all geographic systems - fish from the sea, rice and barley from the fields, mushrooms from the forest. The women would chop, stir, roll, and fill their way to dinner that would commence when the first star appeared.
The menu includes mushroom soup with noodles, pea soup, cabbage soup, barley and dried plums, pierogies (3 kinds), fish, and apple rice strudel. We also have nut and poppy rolled bread to pass during the meal.
Photo credit: Jennifer Swatsky Mullins (aka Aunt Jennifer)
I find great joy in carrying on this tradition in my own home. I'd love to say I have a houseful of women gather every 12/24 to recreate this menu. Alas, that's not the case. I usually begin making the breads and pierogies in October and freeze them. I buy the noodles. But I do get up early and begin cooking everything from scratch. When I do this, I feel connected to the generations of women who came before me to make this meal with the exact recipes I'm using. My kids love the meal and look forward to it even more once we move past Halloween.
I am also committed to a special Thanksgiving menu that perfectly blends traditional foods from my family and my husband's family. I can't wait for the same foods every year. The kids help some and always enjoy eating it, especially leftovers.
We also love decorating for various holidays throughout the year, opening gifts a special way on Christmas morning, and planning our new year.
These traditions bring our family closer together. They give us something to look forward to, a common activity to participate in, and provide anticipation of building memories.
David Elkind, author of All Grown Up and No Place to Go, points out that traditions are particularly important for adolescents. Yes, those children we think don't care about anything really do look forward to building memories through family traditions.
This is a very important point. Even if they look like they aren't having fun, they are still in the moment and will remember it for many years.
If you have traditions in place, great. Begin communicating about them in advance to build that anticipation. Get everyone excited about them! I know they take time, but it's time well spent, I promise.
If you don't have any traditions in place, it's not too late to start. And now is the perfect time! 'Tis the season for fall, Thanksgiving, football, Christmas, and New Years. Pick one and get started.
If you aren't sure where to begin with forming some traditions, I highly suggest heading to Pinterest. I'll be honest, Pinterest is my time-killer of choice. I like it better than any social media platform because it's loaded with great ideas, yet I feel none of the pressure I get from other places. You can pin ideas and return to them later. And don't worry about "Pinterest fails." You never have to tell anyone if an idea works or not! Just use Pinterest as your idea board and get started.
So what holiday are you going to enact traditions with next❓
What are your favorite traditions❓
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