A couple years ago I made a 35 before 35 list, and one of the items on my list was creating a new family tradition. At the time I felt like we didn’t have any traditions that our kids would remember when they grew up. Every time I would visit Pinterest I’d see people taking weekly photos of their babies, saving birthday dresses, and making annual photo books, meanwhile I was excited if I remembered to take a first day of school picture of my kids. We didn’t have any family vacation spots, we didn’t always choose a fresh Christmas tree from a particular farm; I basically felt we’d failed our kids in the memories department.
As the years have passed and my perspective has changed, I’ve realized we have lots of traditions that aren’t loud and flamboyant, but are simple, sweet, and memorable – just like our family. Like the new notebook tradition. Ever since the kids could hold a crayon we’ve bought them new notebooks whenever we take a trip. When they were babies there were no line just blank paper, and the books were filled with a whole lot of chicken scratches. As the years went by we’ve seen garbage trucks, dump trucks, unicorns, and family photos make their way into those notebooks. Over the last couple of summers we’ve graduated to journals filled with fictional stories, and diary entries about roadtrips and beach visits. We don’t have any photo books at our house, but our memory boxes are filled with notebooks that show my kids growing up, and I’m finally okay with that.
The new notebooks got me thinking about other traditions I’d overlooked when I made that list 2 years ago. We always let the kids choose whatever backpack they want for the new school year no matter what it looks like or costs. When it’s their birthday they can choose to go out for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and they always choose the restaurant. I also bake their birthday cakes every year. Every Diwali since they were born I’ve lit candles to celebrate, and cooked an Indian dinner. These traditions are just as important as annual vacations, big birthday parties, and scrapbooks. (I know I’m really going on about the photo books and scrapbooks, but seriously, how do people keep up with those?)
I’ve to come to learn that every family has a rhythm and style is perfect for them. Some families thrive on big experiences, perfect family photos, and traditions that look complicated to someone like me, but that’s okay too. It’s not my job to compare to myself to them or judge them, it’s my job to create the family life and childhood experience I want for my kids.
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