A few of our weird and accessible family traditions.

A few of our weird and accessible family traditions.

Back in June when we celebrated our fifteenth (!!!) wedding anniversary, we celebrated like we usually do (when we’re not in a strictly gluten-free year, that is). We picked up a couple of pieces of wedding cake and enjoyed them with the kids.

But not just any wedding cake. Our wedding cake.

When we got married, we ordered our cake from a local bakery with a storefront. We didn’t think for a second about the ramifications then, but now we can drop in on our anniversary every year and pick up a few slices of Italian cream, chocolate raspberry, and carrot—the three flavors we had for our wedding—and bring them home. (If the owner is in she gives them to us for free and asks how the kids are doing.)

Our kids love the tradition, and I don’t think it’s just because of the icing.

I posted a picture of our cake cutting to Instagram without thinking much of it, but your comments made me realize that this isn’t a typical tradition. We didn’t set out to create it; we just stumbled into it. (Those might be the best kind of traditions.)

That got me thinking about our other traditions—not the big ones, like turkey at Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve at Grandma’s—but the quirky but unremarkable things that make our family unique.

These things don’t take much time or effort, but they’re nevertheless special. They make us us:

• We eat dinner together. (Ordinary, see?)

• We have special breakfasts on Saturday or Sunday mornings. (But rarely both.)

• For family birthdays, we fire up the White Album and play Birthday over and over again for a living room dance party.

• We do birthday donuts. 

• We do Friday pizza night. (I love/hate how many of our traditions involve food. I try to make sure not too many of our traditions revolve around sugar.)

• We have a really indulgent breakfast on the first day of school. Think pancakes, eggs, and bacon. Or better yet, apple crisp a la mode.

• We take evening walks. (After the recent jaw-dropping blue moon, a friend mentioned that a family she knew took full moon walks. I love this.)

• We bike ride, we hike, we take the dog on long walks on any weekend with halfway decent weather.

• We seek out and browse the local independent bookstore whenever we’re on the road.

• When we’re traveling, we leave before dawn—at least if the kids get their way. They love to leave home when it’s still dark out.

• We watch funny, entertaining, and just plain strange YouTube clips together.

• We have family game nights. Now that my youngest is five, we’re just entering the stage where this is actually fun. We love Taboo, Uno, and Word on the Street.

We all could use some good ideas: I’d love to hear YOUR quirky but accessible traditions in comments. 

P.S. Making it yours, and how to live with kids.

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111 comments

  1. Kat says:

    >>Santa doesn’t come to our house, but St.Nicholas does! He brings nuts, fruits, a few chocolates, and money.
    >>On Christmas after Midnight Mass we have a picnic of cookies and milk under the Christmas tree. It’s the best way to get excited children to calm down and to bed at 3 a.m.
    >>Each child once they turn 2 receives a patron saint necklace on a ball chain necklace. My children are all in their 20’s and they still have them. I don’t think they wear them anymore, but I know they are carried in their pockets.
    >>Family Easter Basket. All of the candy is put into a large basket and shared.
    >>Read a louds!
    >> Now that the children are grown, they come home for Sunday dinner. It actually starts after Mass as brunch with scones and “fancy*” coffee and ends with dessert after dinner.

  2. Carrie Phillips says:

    I love family traditions. We have a few that go back many years: on Christmas morning nobody gets to come to the living room until you hear Gene Autrey’s “Here comes Santa Claus” blasted over the stereo (this was started in the 60s by my grandad), my husband’s Memaw bakes treats whenever anyone goes camping and sends it with them (along with some sparklers or other “fun”stuff for the kiddos), on Christmas eve my husband’s family has a long standing tradition that is similar to a “roast”, everyone takes turns making fun of something that happened earlier in the year and even brings props or gag gifts to help explain…for example, my father in law got into the wrong car at the grocery store so his brother got him a big magnet that said “this car, Larry!!!” And one year his brother shot a buck in his back yard one morning in his pajamas so we got him a camo bathrobe!
    We have tried to start some of our own as well. We put the pieces to a puzzle in the Easter eggs so you have to find all of them in order to complete the puzzle (I was tired of all the candy!). I have also put money in them and then we take the money with us as offering on Easter Sunday! We also always read from Luke 2 every Christmas eve together as a family. No matter where we are or whose house…My granddad read it for 40+ yrs and we all cried the year he made a point to pass it on to my dad, who now reads since my granddad passed..one year I read it to my 1 yr old at the Children’s hospital because he was fighting an infection during chemo. But it is a consistent part of our family traditions. Kids need things like this to pass on and even laugh at later!!

  3. Kirsten says:

    The weekend after Thanksgiving, we pick out and decorate our Christmas tree. My birthday is usually the same weekend, so its a nice tradition to trim the tree. We also put up our leg lamp (from A Christmas Story) in the front window.
    On Christmas Eve, we go to dinner at a relatively nice restaurant, then to our church’s Christmas Eve service. Afterwards, we go home, read the Night Before Christmas to our 2 daughters and the dog (we started this tradition with just the dog, as he was our “firstborn”), then leave Santa gingerbread and beer instead of cookies & milk.
    For Christmas, Thanksgiving, & New Years, I make Glogg, a Swedish mulled wine. I start it when I get up first thing, and by lunchtime its ready to go. I also make Ost kaka (Swedish cheesecake) for Christmas. My grandmother was Swedish, and while I definitely don’t make the lutefisk, the glogg and ost kaka are definitely traditions worth keeping.
    The night before Thanksgiving, my family, my parents and godparents get together and make the desserts for Thanksgiving. We usually eat chili, then play a dice game afterwards.
    On Sundays, we pick up kolaches before church in the morning.
    Whenever I get the opportunity to go to London, I purchase a hat at an amazing hat store that has been in business in 1676.
    My oldest is starting school this fall, so I loved seeing the ideas for first/last day of school.

  4. JR says:

    We’ve got lots of the normal traditions (watching a movie after trimming the tree–Christmas Vacation, in our case; birthday person picks dinner–I always have turkey dinner!; Christmas breakfast; etc.), but one that I’ve not heard of anybody else doing is New Year’s Eve Surf & Turf. My dad LOVES lobster, and my parents weren’t always able to easily afford it, so one year, my mom scrimped and saved to buy him a nice steak AND a lobster tail for New Year’s Eve Dinner. We’ve had Surf & Turf for dinner almost every year since. I would gladly be a little late to my friends’ parties so that I could be sure not to miss Surf & Turf with my family. The other important part of the tradition is that Mom absolutely cannot stay up to midnight–she’s incapable of making it that long 🙂

  5. Nicola says:

    I know I’m so late to this game but I’ve loved reading all the comments and wanted to add our traditions!
    There’s this music event each year called Eurovision-it’s a big OTT spectacle full of cheesy music and completely out there artists. Then all the countries rank the artists and points are awarded to see who wins (and hosts the contest the next year) – it takes all evening and the hosts on TV in the UK commentate with a hint of some alcohol consumption before hand. It’s fab! Anyway, when my husband and I had been dating a few weeks it was Eurovision night and he made fajitas (which id never had before!) and we wrote down and scored every entry and we’ve continued to do this every year since.
    We also have a family walk every evening after dinner and our neighbours cat comes with us!
    On certain birthdays my husband and I write letters to our children (1st, 5th, 10th, 13th, 18th) telling them how great they are.
    We live in Ireland so no thanksgiving holiday but we have our own roast (chicken not turkey) the weekend after Thanksgiving and have a meal when we celebrate all the good things in our life.
    Christmas we do the usual family movie time on Christmas Eve watching Elf, eat popcorn and light the fire. We also don’t do presents with my siblings-instead we all go out together, with our spouses as well, for dinner and an activity (eg crazy golf) in January. So much better than more gifts!

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