Nine years ago I was expecting our first child and sick with not only extreme “morning” sickness, but also anxiety about creating our own unique family Christmas traditions for my yet-to-be-born baby. And that baby was due in June by the way; Motherhood is weird. At any rate, I spent much of that holiday season in conversations with my dear husband trying to dream up traditions that we had to start now so that we could tell our unborn child that we “had been doing this as a family since before you were born!” Again, motherhood is weird.
I honestly don’t remember whatever random traditions we attempted to start that year, but none of them exist today for our now family of six. I think what I was trying so desperately to do was recreate the magic of Christmas that my parents cultivated for my siblings and me year after year. If you know my mom, you know she goes all out for most holidays, but her Christmas décor and spirit is next level. And she makes it look effortless.
As a seasoned mom of four now, I know it’s the very opposite of effortless, but I also know the joy it is to watch your children experience the wonder of Christmas.
At Lionheart, I’m fortunate to be surrounded by brilliant moms and early childhood experts (some of the best in the business!), and because of them, I know the value of establishing family traditions. Children thrive on routine and consistency, and a family tradition provides just that year after year.
Family traditions also help young children develop a positive self-identity and establish a sense of belonging, all the while nurturing family bonds. While we recognize this important piece of early childhood, not one of my colleagues or any expert has ever said that these traditions need to be complicated or forced. In fact, I think most would argue that they should be neither.
When I look back at special childhood Christmas memories of my own– the ones that are a balm to my soul – they are holiday rhythms that began without planning or worry. The ones that happened naturally over time and became tradition. I wish I could go back to 2014 and tell my pregnant self to relax and create space (and time) to allow for special family traditions to happen organically. I’d assure her that they will happen, and they will be beloved by our children. (I’d also tell her to go ahead and invest in those maternity jeans and the economy-size bottle of Tums, but that’s another blog).
Here are a few of our family holiday rhythms that have become tradition over the last nine years.
- Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Dinner: Every year we watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving while enjoying a picnic dinner of popcorn, toast and jelly beans in the living room. The boys get so tickled to eat this silly dinner in the living room, and they all love Charlie Brown.
- Picking out our tree: It’s not the romantic visit to a tree farm I had always pictured, but it is a fun and much-anticipated trip to our local hardware store to pick out “the most special” tree as our boys say, and we do it every Friday after Thanksgiving.
- Christmas Eve morning breakfast out: We have been doing this since before kids, though my 2014 self would not have considered it a tradition. What once began as a special treat for two newlyweds has become a fun (albeit chaotic) trip to our local greasy spoon every December 24.
Here’s to allowing ourselves the freedom to create space for family traditions to happen organically. And while they likely won’t be the overly curated, fussy kind of tradition, they’ll undoubtedly be the ones our children carry in their hearts for a lifetime.
-Ashleigh J, Vice President of Marketing