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Our Most Cherished Family Traditions

Family

A few months after Charlie was born, I read How to Celebrate Everything one-handed on the Kindle app while nursing. In the part-memoir/part-cookbook, Jenny Rosenstrach shares the little, everyday rituals that color her family’s culture, from the recipes that automatically signify and celebrate birthdays, to the go-to mashed potatoes that brought comfort from middle school drama and braces tightenings alike, to the bus stop potlucks celebrated every school-year-end, and more. Of course, Dave and I began establishing a few traditions before Charlie was born–adopting favorites from our own childhoods and dreaming up new ideas together. Reading that book so soon after becoming a mother, though, reminded me that our traditions can create joy, security, and a sense of belonging in our children, and that felt especially significant.

I thought it would be fun to write out a few of our most cherished family traditions here, but I am sure there are some I didn’t even think of off the top of my head. They are already so naturally engrained in our family that when the time comes to partake in them, they don’t require a second thought. That said, here are a few of the big and small seasonal rituals that we love. Please do share a few of yours in the comments too!

Fall

– Taking first-day-of-school pictures by the front door
– Going to the pumpkin patch
– Celebrating Charlie’s baptism anniversary/the feast day of our family patron Saint, Saint John Paul II (find some ideas in this For This Feast post and this Blessed Is She post)
– If we can, we love going to the mountains this time of year (see some past trips here, here, and here)
– Making chili for dinner on Halloween night

Winter

– Making one (or more…preferably more!) of my Grandma’s Christmas cookie recipes
– Decorating sugar cookies, the more elaborately, the better
– Sending Christmas cards in the mail (see ours from 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, and 2015)
– Lighting our Advent candles every night at dinner
– Attending The Nutcracker
– Watching the 1985 version of A Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve
– Eating gumbo for Christmas dinner
– Popping a bottle of champagne in the evening on Christmas Day. Making a note to do a whole post about this because Dave and I came up with it ourselves and it’s one of my favorites :)

Spring:

– Walking around by the daffodils at Dix Park
– Taking pictures of Azelie at the azalea garden
– Ordering Yellow Dog Bread Co. hot cross buns for Holy Week
– Watching our wedding video and looking through our wedding album on our anniversary
– Going to Fearrington, our wedding venue, for a visit

Summer:

– Traveling to upstate New York to visit Dave’s family (this year’s trip here)
– Going to the Apex Fourth of July parade with the Thomases
– Eating croissants on the feast of Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin, Azelie’s namesake

These are just the specifically seasonal traditions–I didn’t even include more regular rituals (like making homemade pizza every Friday night), smaller liturgical living celebrations, or the things we do in specific circumstances, such as choosing a worship song for each of our babies that we listen to in the hospital or our birthday party rhythm. Maybe a future post!

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  1. Tricia says:

    I love all of your family traditions! So sweet!

    Our family always does gumbo for Christmas Eve and it is my absolute favorite! The perfect cold weather celebration meal.

  2. Em says:

    Love this post so very much – will be writing one of my own one of these days!! So sweet to see them all written out in one spot.

  3. Marisa says:

    I love this post! I’ve been thinking a lot about tradition creating, especially since living abroad means I have to shop/plan for each season a year in advance! I also have been meaning to read the Art of Gathering for ages…this has really inspired me to kick it up in my TBR list!

  4. Teresa says:

    This post is so lovely! Thank you for sharing some of your sweet celebrations with us. It makes me want to make a list of my own!

    And I had to smile at your opening paragraph, because, like you, I read How to Celebrate Everything while home on maternity leave with my first born. It was the coziest book to contemplate in the early days of motherhood.

  5. Dana says:

    All the Christmas traditions are my favorite! We eat food we had at our wedding for our anniversary. With both anniversaries falling during Stage 5 COVID, take out at home with some wedding decor has been fun.

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