Ending an Eventful Year: Creating Meaningful Traditions
If there is one thing that is an end-of-year tradition for me, it’s the all-nighters that precede Christmas morning. Are they a tradition or a bad habit? I can’t quite decide. All I can say is those late nights made it possible for toys to be tested, bikes assembled, and a ton of packages to be wrapped. My husband, an only child, always wanted children (plural) and dreamed of giving them BIG, exciting, and overwhelming Christmas mornings. The all-nighters were my necessary prelude to creating that Grand Tradition for the rest of the family.
Having a baby inspires parents to think about everything they ever wanted their child to have in life; the list usually being a combination of everything good and everything that each of us thinks should have been in one’s own childhood. All in all, a few of the big things on the new parents/new traditions list will come to fruition. Lots of ideas on that list will end up lost in negotiations between the parents, or simply swept away by more pressing everyday priorities. And there will be unexpected new traditions borne of the interests and temperament your child brings to family.
Seriously, the biggest driver of family traditions is children’s inborn desire to enjoy and experience positive consistency in their lives. What begins as a sweet little ritual between you and your baby can evolve into a family tradition about bedtime, bathtime, family dinners, or special types of outings. Older infants and toddlers want the punctuation of happy events and family rituals to define life’s transitions and progressions. And hopefully you can figure some of your traditions out by the time your baby reaches age 3, because your little one will ask over and over again, “How long do I have to wait before we go see ______ again?” or “You forgot to read my story and I can’t go to sleep.” Start traditions you can sustain.
And, speaking of sustaining traditions, Christmas is still a big deal in our house. But it’s not for the toys; it’s so we can be all together and even have an “annual family meeting.” This year the big surprise was a wedding, planned in the space of two weeks at our family home. And the one tradition that is at the top of the heap? Nothing commercial or glitzy or gift-laden. It is the bi-annual family vacation to a lake for a week in a houseboat, working and playing and having meals together with three generations of family and a few very close friends. Positive. Bonding. Consistently. The foundations for my most venerated family tradition.