Thursday, December 5, 2013

When Creating Traditions, Accidents Should Happen

When I became a parent, I developed this burning desire to create family traditions that would make my baby girls feel warm, safe, loved and special. I just wasn’t sure how to go about it. For the first few years after the peeps were born, I tried to manufacture these occasions based on what other families did. Many of these attempts failed to catch on because our hearts weren’t in them. They weren’t authentically “us.”

I became frustrated, believing we would be the only family on the planet that didn’t have traditions. (Drama much?) I think my desire to create traditions came from the fact that my childhood was, for the most part, devoid of strong family connections. I craved the closeness all of my friends seemed to have with their families, especially around the holidays. As a parent, I vowed to create that bond in my own little family.

After trying so hard, and feeling like I failed, I took a step back and reflected on what I was doing wrong. It was then that I realized our family actually followed several meaningful and fun traditions. I also realized authentic traditions, ones that stick around, can’t be purposefully planned. They just have to happen. In our family, our best traditions are created by accident. And while they may not be unique, they reflect who we are at a given point in time. Interestingly, each tradition is a perfect blend of My Ideal Reality and My Real Reality.

 Here they are:

Homemade cinnamon rolls
One year, while we were still dating, my then-boyfriend/now husband made me homemade cinnamon rolls. If you’ve ever made cinnamon rolls from scratch, you know it’s a time-consuming process. More than 10 years later, the tradition continues, and my husband still makes them. A hot pan of gooey, sweet, sticky, buttery rolls is ready and waiting either Thanksgiving morning or Christmas morning (it depends on our holiday obligations, which vary from year to year). The fact that we only indulge once a year makes them taste that much better. 

Salt dough ornaments
One winter day, when the peeps were about 3 years old, something made me think of these ornaments, which had been the standard classroom craft of school children in the 1970s. I found an easy recipe, and we spent the afternoon cutting shapes and painting them. Four years later, we take a day every winter to make a new batch for their Christmas tree. It’s been fun watching how the girls’ artistic skills have developed over the years. And we’ve named our kitchen: The Meltdown Bakery of Love.

Santa at the Kansas City Zoo
This will be our third year to visit Santa at The Kansas City Zoo. With a predicted high of 20°F on Saturday, this will be a chilly visit (last year, we didn’t need coats!). The zoo’s new penguin exhibit just opened, so we are excited to check that out as well! This tradition started because someone who shall not be named forgot one year that a trip to Santa was a necessary part of the holidays. Oops! By the time this person realized it, most of the Santa sightings had already taken place. Thankfully, we found Santa at the zoo, and he was perfect. And free. We can take our own photos and/or buy one for $5. Deal!

Mayor’s Christmas Tree Lighting
This was a new adventure for us this year. I don’t know if it will become a tradition, but I hope so. Our little family has had several big events occur recently (all good!), so we decided to celebrate with a Staycation. We booked at room at the Westin Crown Center, which included four tix to LegoLand, four tix to Sea Life and a $20 gift certificate. We spent the day after Thanksgiving exploring and eating. Then, we joined the crowd outside of Crown Center for the annual Mayor’s Christmas Tree Lighting (100 feet tall!) I’m a Kansas City native, but had never experienced this event before. It was beautiful, fun and the perfect way to start off the holiday season. Then, we camped in our hotel room with dinner, some beers (for me and the husband, NOT the peeps), and some Cartoon Network (for the peeps, NOT for me and the husband).

And there you have it! Our accidentally authentic holiday traditions!

Here is your call to action: Share one of YOUR family traditions and how it came to be (accidental or not)!

Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing … Keep It Real.

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