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How to start a family tradition that will be repeated for generations

Updated on March 17, 2013
love our hikes!
love our hikes! | Source


When you think about your childhood years, what are your memories about? For most people, it is about the traditions. I remember when I was growing up, we always went to a movie on Thanksgiving day before the meal.On Christmas Eve, we would follow the trail of cars touring the beautiful decorations. It was a yearly family event! As were many other fun things! When I had my children, I realized that I wanted them to have cherished memories, too. Memories that not only signified love and fun, but also stability and predictably. Not such bad things to have when you are growing up!

It became even more precious to me after we moved to Israel and I not only felt the need to preserve the old while making new family traditions, but to teach my children about the American traditions that were also their heritage.


   [truh-dish-uhn] Show IPAnoun1.the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs,information, etc., from generation to generation, especiallyby word of mouth or by practice: a story that has come downto us by popular tradition.2.something that is handed down: the traditions of the Eskimos.3.a long-established or inherited way of thinking or acting: Therebellious students wanted to break with tradition.4.a continuing pattern of culture beliefs or practices.5.a customary or characteristic method or manner: The winnertook a victory lap in the usual track tradition.

Which traditions?

What I was striving for with my children was to introduce them to ethnic and religious traditions, family traditions and to make new traditions that were all ours! It wasn't always easy to do this, living so far from home but I tried to accomodate for the differences by using substitutions that closely resembled "the real thing." For example: Halloween is not an awknowledged holiday in Israel. Prior to the actual day, I would read the kids books and show them videos or shows about halloween. On the day of, we would take out the dress-up clothes and make-up and have some fun. Once they were in costume, I would hand them each a trick or treat bag and we would have a treasure hunt. I would write poems and hints or require a stunt and they would get a treat or prize in their bag at each station. For a little added fun, they were always welcome to have a friend or cousin or two join us. The kids always got a kick out of describing Halloween to others. When the treasure hunt was over, they would sit at the table and dump their treats out. Sound familiar?

always  fun to be together!
always fun to be together! | Source

On a budget

When the kids were small we didn't have a lot of money. A birthday party at that time in our village consisted of inviting all the kids to sing,eat cake and play at your house. No Chuck E Cheese or MacDonalds birthdays there! When Tori was 5, I bought her the "Baby Alive" doll that she was begging us for. Knowing that she was already familiar with the kind of fanfare a 5th birthday in America would bring, I was feeling a bit incompetent. I stayed up the night before and thought about what I could do on a limited budget to make it special. I decorated the house with Happy birthday posters and balloons as was my usual custom but this time I added something new. I took the new doll and put her in the new cradle we had purchased for her. I tied balloons and streamers everywhere on them. I put this in Tori's room so that it would be the only thing she would see when she woke up! We continued this tradition of birthday morning surprises! One year, running out of clever ideas, we took all the stuffed animals in the house (and there were a lot!) piled them all on the table holding the balloons and signs. Ben didn't see his surprise when he first woke up. He made his way, a bit disappointed, into the dining room only to find the whole crew waiting to yell "Happy Birthday!"

The family that plays together....

Another thing we like to do as a family, is watch meteor showers, etc. We usually get the blankets or lawn chairs, make popcorn and hot chocolate and star gaze. Somehow, being outside together in the still hours of the night, where the grass is dewy and the air is chilly, brings out the warmth of our relationships. I remember one year when Tori and I wanted to see a meteor shower at about four in the morning. We prepared our hot drinks but were a little afraid to venture too far from the house. We put on our hoodies and sat on a big rock not far from our door. The view wasn't much but the companionship was awesome! Our most memorable sighting turned out to be a pretty remarkable one. In February, 2003, the space shuttle Colunbia was going to be circling over Israel. It was a big thing for many reasons, including the fact the first Israeli Astronaut, Ilan Ramon, was in that shuttle! We were told that it was expected to be sighted around 4 am. My husband, at the time, and I were cold and tired so we decided to send then 13 year old Ben outside to watch for it. We sleepily told him only to call us if he saw anything. Wew dozed off, fully expecting it to be a bust. Lo and behold, he began to yell. We ran out to what looked like a white streak overhead, like a comet crossing over us. What an awesome sight! Sadly, this memory became much more poignant to us when, only a short time later, the Columbia blew up over Texas on it's return.

The simple things

It doesn't have to be grand gesture to become a tradition. It can just be as sweet as this one. I had a friend who would wake her kids up in the middle of the night just to experience the wonder and beauty of the first snowfall of the season. Do you think they will ever see freshly fallen snow and not remember the beauty and stillness of those nights?! And you know that they will always remeber their mother's contagious enthusiasm as she heralded them outside.

First snow!
First snow!


We also have our little traditions.Some of them, like the next ones are pretty universal but we have adopted them and made them our own. The time is 11:11? Quick! Kiss the clock and make a wish! We take turns, everybody listening, when reading our fortune cookies and sometimes add the words "in bed" to the end. My kids know that one of the most important ones that I insist on following, is not allowing physical things to come between us. For instance: We are walking down the street, 3 abreast and there is a post in the middle of the walkway. We MUST, I repeat must walk on the same side of the post. In my mind, splitting up would be a foreshadow of future "gloom and doom" It has become second nature for them to humour me. I know, that years down the road when they are swapping silly mom stories, this will be one! I wonder, though, will they do it, too?!

Kiss the clock
Kiss the clock | Source

Create your own memories

Ask my kids about the tooth fairy. Go on, see what they say. They will say that the tooth fairy came for every lost tooth, but....she had a friend. The tooth mommy! She also came for every lost tooth. She always let the tooth fairy buy the tooth back but she was so proud and excited, she left a little gift under the pillow. She was such a great tooth mommy that she even left a little gift for the kid who didn't lose a tooth! (Ever trying to be fair!) To what extreme will we go to insure these childhood memories? My mother had a friend who dressed up in a fairy costume to place the money under the pillow. That was her way of insuring that a wakened child wouldn't be disappointed if they spotted mommy in their room. I decided if I just include tooth mommy, they won't catch on if they catch me!

Always exciting to wake up to this!
Always exciting to wake up to this! | Source
As long as he doesn't catch a glimpse of this!
As long as he doesn't catch a glimpse of this! | Source

My Parting Wish

With Thanksgiving looming just around the corner (How did that happen so quickly!?!?) the meaning of traditions is more prevalent in most of our minds. How do I know when something I do hits tradition status. One way I know is when I hear them talking about it. They use sentences like, "We always...., my mom makes....since we were little...." Here is one example: Last year, before Thanksgiving, I called my daughter who was away at school, asking her what I could make her to substiitute the turkey, now that she is vegetarian. She said, "You know, I can eat a little turkey, that's ok." A week later she called back. "Mom, can you brine the turkey and make the sweet potatoes and green beans the same way you did last year and can I bring some friends?" That's how our holidays go. Traditional food and always room at our table! For those of you who celebrate it, I hope you all have a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving, filled with good food, family, friends and laughter. Always laughter!



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    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 5 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, KoffeeKlatch Gals, that will always be the goal! Thanks for stopping by!

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 5 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Traditions are a wonderful thing to give to your children. It makes them feel like they have a warm caring family. Beautiful hub.

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 5 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, NCBIer for reading and your generous comments! we only have one near the holidays and it is always a bit of a challenge keeping it a separate celebration! Thgank you for sharing!

    • NCBIer profile image

      NCBIer 5 years ago

      A beautiful hub, thank you. Family traditions are what makes the holidays so special to me and I hope for my boys as well. For some reason, everyones birthdays are really close to some holiday, which makes their birthday traditions even more special. There is just nothing like waking up to a room filled with balloons to start the day out right.

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 5 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Denise, Thank you so much! I haven't seen you in awhile. i hope all is good with you! The meteor showers are probably our favorite, too! Thank you for your generous comments and votes!

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Wonderful hub, Randi-this is such a timely subject. Tradition is very important and does keep a stability and dependability within the family. Thanks so much for sharing these cherished moments, Randi. I loved the meteor shower tradition. :) Rated up/A

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 5 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      mpropp, thank you so much for reading and your comments! It's true that traditions per se are what you make them. can always change them! I hope you have a very happy Thanksgiving filled with traditions!

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 5 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      thanks, Richard for visiting. I know, I haven't been getting all my notices either! I don't think it's ever too late to something fun that you would love to repeat. Or you could just tell them it is an old tradition and they just don't remember that they used to like it! Either way, it's all about the warm fuzzies!

    • rcrumple profile image

      Rich 5 years ago from Kentucky

      Randi - Sorry I'm late. Again, no notices! These are some really good ideas, especially for those that still have, or will have children in their homes. Ours are a little late to begin traditions with, but who knows, I may start something just for the hell of it! lol Great job!

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 5 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Hi Chantele, Thank you for reading and commenting. Traditions just seem to creep up on you. I haven't actively said....hmmm, I think I'll start a new family tradition (although I have friends who have done just that!) but I have enjoyed knowing that some of my actions have caused positive reactions! Randi

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 5 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Nartin...this makes me so sad. Just like my kittens, I want to take you in. We probably sound like we have it all but we are just a tiny family unit of 3 (soon to be 4...maybe 5!) We have struggled with too many horrible family issues. I always wanted to get in my car and drive wherever the mood took us and just stay there, just to get away from it all. Practicality took over and 4 years ago, we packed up and moved far, far away. We have since become closer. Your story intrigues. I just want to reach out and know more. Thank you for being here.

    • daisydayz profile image

      Chantele Cross-Jones 5 years ago from Cardiff

      Aww what a lovely hub, you have some great family traditions there. I don't think we really have any to be honest, every celebration is usually different with us. When we have our own kids maybe we will try make some traditions of our own too.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Very tearful hub for me. I'm afraid the traditions I started were not with my family. And all the traditions that are gone for the sake of mine. But thank you.

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 5 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you for reading, b. Malin! I know exactly what you mean. Here in Az, we are only 3, soon to be adding an extended family, thanks to my daughter! The rest of our family is still either in Chicago or Israel. Enjoy them as much as you can. It goes by so quickly! Thank you so much for sharing! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 5 years ago from Minnesota

      Thank you for reminding me how easy and yet special it is to create your own family traditions. As I was reading this I kept thinking things like "oh yeah, we doing something like that but with our own unique spin." And that's exactly what makes a family tradition. I really appreciate you sharing so many of your personal traditions with us. It was fun to read!

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 5 years ago

      What a Beautiful and well written Hub, Btrbell. With Families split apart by distance today, Traditions are so hard to keep. We are getting together, (minus 1 son & daughter-in-law) for Thanksgiving . But come next year, my little family is moving here and there. We hope to be living in Florida. One Granddaughter is off to teach in Nevada. So this year will be "Special".

      Thanks for sharing Wonderful Ideas, and picture and Video. I too Voted UP & Interesting.

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 5 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, thank you, Carol for being here and your warm thoughts and votes!

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 5 years ago from Arizona

      Lovely hub and wonderful thoughts. Tradition keeps the family together. How many have these traditions. Great photos and great hub....Voted UP.