It isn’t even Halloween yet, but the stores are already stocking tree ornaments and wrapping paper. It’s the time of year where holiday parties and family traditions run rampant. Everything from traditional Christmas Eve dinners and Chanukah celebrations to tacky sweater parties, trips, and beer for Santa.
Likely, your family has a set of traditions that were carried out when you were a child, and you probably want to carry these on with your own children. But what if your family didn’t have traditions? What if, for a variety of reasons, you find yourself and your new family independent of a time-honored, handed-down tradition of carving pumpkins on Halloween night and dressing in matching sweaters for Christmas?
You create your own.
My family is one of those in which surviving the holiday was the only true tradition. I married into a much more cohesive family than the one I came from, so there are traditions to implement — it’s just none of them are my own. Sure, we do Thanksgiving at the grandparent’s property, we tend to skip Halloween, and Christmas is a combination birthday for my husband and holiday dinner. Those are all wonderful traditions that I want to keep going on, but I need to pepper a bit of “me” in there as well. Below are three guidelines on how the make them stick moving forward.
Determine When They Need to Start
Depending on age, they may not need to begin right away. My son is four months old. We can bypass trunk-or-treat, the pumpkin patch, and hayrides this year. I may be tempted to dress him as a turkey before he can fight me on it, and Santa pictures are a definite must. But I’m definitely not entering into the parking lot of Greystone Blvd for the holiday zoo events until he’s old enough to appreciate it.
Find a Tradition That Fits Your Family
One day I want my child to be able to say, “We did this in my family … well, mom had us do this … I want to do this because it reminds me of mom.” (Ideally, it won’t be followed with “because she’s crazy,” unless it is well-meaning crazy.) I want to pass traditions onto my son — traditions I created — sprinkled with those of our extended families. Hopefully, when my boy has a family of his own, he’ll do the same.
Select Traditions That Are Easy to Recreate Each Year
Like any good science fair project, others need to be able to understand how to recreate it in years to come. For Halloween, I selected a new tradition – hand and footprint pumpkins. I plan to do these every year so I can see just how much my boy has grown. And what is cuter than a bunch of photos of my little guy stamping his handprints and footprints on a pumpkin each year? (Okay, I might not be able to get him to do it as a teen, but here’s hoping. Regardless, I’ll have a really good collection of photos of him with our tradition.)
Make Your Own Hand and Footprint Pumpkins (my family’s new tradition)
What You’ll Need
- Pumpkin (big enough to cover the length of at least two footprints)
- Black Paint (the kind that is easy to wash off your kids)
- Select a pumpkin big enough to accommodate several footprints from your child. Since my son is only 4 months old, I was able to buy a little one. However, once he’s older, my pumpkin choices will have to get bigger. It may even become a fun game each year of our family finding the “right” pumpkin.
- Paint your child’s feet with black paint (make sure it’s the kind that is easy to wash off your kids).
- Press feet to pumpkin to create the “mouth.”
- Ask your child to make a fist (if too young, create a fist for them). Paint the underside of the fist with black paint.
- Press fists onto the pumpkin to create the “eyes.”
I know that I’m not alone in my tradition creating. Share yours in the comments!