Creating Family Traditions

It has always been important to me that we create traditions for our family that our children will always remember. That is why I really appreciated the efforts of a local author, Pamela Ogren, who has published her book, “Creating Happy Memories: 100+ Ways to Start & Strengthen Family Traditions.”

The author was a single mother, who felt that it was important to her to create family traditions of her own, particularly since it was only herself and her daughter. She wanted to be able to give her daughter traditions and then wanted to inspire other families to create traditions in their own homes. She pooled together traditions from national celebrities and local residents, who had special traditions that she felt families could benefit from.

Her own favorite tradition that she did for her daughter was something she began to doing when her daughter was only an infant. “I wrote letters to her beginning shortly after she was born. I did it throughout the years. When she graduated from college, I put each of the letters in a new linen envelope and tied them with a ribbon and gave them to her for her graduation.”

Since I began our own family, I have always tried to create new traditions for our children. I am hoping that these will be memories that they will share with their own family someday or that they will actually implement them in their own house.

Some of the things that I am trying to do for our children are:

1. On the first day of December, I set a basket out with small slips of paper and pens. Each person in the family is supposed to write something about someone else in the family that they appreciate about them and stick them in their stocking. On Christmas morning, we have something fun to look forward to opening, that centers around family rather than gifts.

2. We began doing a Christmas Jar this last year, that was a roaring hit for the kids. I didn’t get around to it this summer, but I was thinking of doing jars for the summer too. For the summer, I am going to tie blue and yellow ribbons around each jar. One will be a jar of “Rainy Day” activities and then the other jar will include “Sunny Day” activities. I fill the jars with free or inexpensive activities that the children can do. My son looked forward to drawing from the jars each day and it gave us a great sense of family when doing these things together.

3. I have started a Christmas journal for the children. In the front of the journal is a pocket for pictures and letters. I have started putting our family Christmas card in the front and the letters to Santa in there. Inside I am including things like what the children asked for from Santa, what their favorite holiday recipes were, what their favorite gifts were, and am highlighting any special activities we have done together. I will give this to them when they are grown.

4. I have started a new journal of the funny things that they have said to me. I always think that I will remember this stuff, but it usually slips my mind. I wanted to start keeping a journal of those funny statements so that they can laugh about it someday. My son, who is five now, is at that stage where he says the cutest things. I would just hate to lose those memories.

5. Every Friday night we try to do a family night together. If something falls on Friday that prevents us from having our night together, we rearrange our schedule to make it another night. I make a homemade pizza or a fun dish and we rent a movie from the library or just spend the evening outside with the kids. Dinner is usually followed by a special treat like a slushie or milkshake. The kids love this time and we try to make them the center of attention for the entire evening.

Sound Off: What are some family traditions that you have implemented in your house?

Related Readings:

Creating Holiday Traditions

Bring Back Family Night
Fun Family Game Nights
The Christmas Jar
Making Real Christmas Memories
Christmas Morning with the Clark’s
Eve of Christmas Morning Recap

Note: Creating Happy Memories can be purchased through the above link, at the Hammes Bookstore on the Notre Dame campus, or you can send a check to: Corby Books, P.O. Box 93, Notre Dame, IN 46556 for $11.95.

Published July 16, 2007 by:

Amy Allen Clark is the founder of You can read all about her here.

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