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Keller Family Traditions, a work in progress

April 9, 2012

When I grew up, Easter was not a big deal.  We got together with my grandparents and had an early dinner on the nice china.  We had pretty spring dresses and curls in our hair but we didn’t go to church in them.  We always had an egg hunt, and the hiding spots were the same every year (we knew to lift the lid on the bbq and look under certain plants).  Our eggs were plastic and full of M&Ms, jelly beans, and nickels.  I don’t remember ever coloring eggs.  I’m glad we didn’t.  Seems boring and I hate the smell of eggs.  There is one more tradition I remember.  My grandma had an inflatable Easter bunny that she put on her front porch every year, and we had to take a picture of us “feeding” the bunny a real carrot.

Now that I’m married and almost ready to start my own family, I’ve thought a lot about traditions.  I’m thinking of what traditions from my family I want to continue, which traditions from my husband’s I want to adopt, and what new traditions I want to start.  As each new holiday comes around, I ask my husband questions like “What did your family do for Easter?” or “Did you get anything on Valentine’s Day?” or “What did you eat at Thanksgiving?”  I haven’t figured out completely what our holidays will be like when we have children, but there are a few things I know I want to include/exclude.

  • New Years Eve – We pretty much ignore this as a holiday currently.  I don’t want to drink in our house when we have kids.  I don’t drink now, and Curtis has an occasional beer or two but neither of us grew up with parents who drank and I’d prefer to keep it that way for our kids too.   Maybe we’ll just do a big New Year’s Day family breakfast.
  • Valentine’s Day – We make each other gifts for Valentine’s Day.  It requires some planning, but it’s something we’ve done since we were dating.  He made me a shelf our first year, and I wove him a basket once that’s in our den now.  These little handmade gifts are a creative, cheap and thoughtful way to avoid the commercialism of Valentine’s.
  • St. Patrick’s Day – Again, we kind of skip this one.  I don’t care for corned beef, and again, drinking is out.  Neither of us are Irish.  It goes unnoticed in our house.
  • Easter – Church. Homemade hot cross buns. Family dinner or brunch.  I think an egg hunt and a basket of goodies is okay but I don’t want to do the whole Easter bunny thing.

The inaugural batch, 2012.

  • Our birthdays – We typically go on a day or weekend trip for our birthdays.  We essentially take the money we’d spend on presents and have an adventure instead.  These have been some of our best times. Cake on my grandma’s cake plate that spins and plays “Happy Birthday” (see below).  Also, my mom had a red plate that said “You are special today!” and I want to buy one of those to have for birthdays and other occasions when the kids should feel loved (good report cards, etc).

Lazy store-bought cake for the big 3-0 because we were leaving for vacation the next day.

  • Summer – Camping trips.

A camping trip past.

  • Our anniversaries – We take a look at the traditional and modern annual gifts list and pick the one we prefer, then pick out a present together for our home.  For our first anniversary it was paper (traditional) or clocks (modern) so we got an antique chiming mantle clock with an engraved plate.  This year it’s cotton or china.  Then we usually go out to a nice dinner and watch our wedding video.  We also write letters to each other and seal them.  Then we open them the next year and keep them in a scrapbook.
  • The Patriotic Holidays: 4th of July, Memorial, Labor Day – Cookouts and homemade ice cream.
  • Halloween – Halloween goes uncelebrated right now, as we don’t have kids.  We live in a condo complex where no one trick-or-treats so we don’t even hand out candy.  When we have kids, we’ll do costumes for them and go to a better neighborhood to beg for candy.  But I want to deemphasize the darker elements of Halloween (no ghosts, witches, etc).  We’ll visit the pumpkin patch, carve them up and roast the seeds in the oven.

At a neighbor's Halloween party, 2009

  • Thanksgiving – Traditional Thanksgiving dinner.  Something I insist upon from my mom’s side of the family is there must be a bowl of black olives.  This is important.  I want to think of something special that we do each year, but I don’t have any great ideas yet.
  • Christmas – We are borrowing a tradition from an article I read last Christmas.  Our presents will be “Something You Want, Something You Need, Something to Wear, Something to Read,” and $100 each to donate to whatever cause you want.  And then stockings.  Stockings are VERY important.  I grew up with great stocking stuffers and it was one of my favorite parts of Christmas.  We were allowed to open our stockings before the adults woke up.  I think that’s a good method.  Also, no Santa.  I realize this is controversial but I’m not doing the Santa charade with my kids (no judgment for those who do).  I don’t think Christmas loses any magic without Santa and I want to focus on Jesus.  I want to figure out a way to have an Advent tradition as well but I don’t know how yet.  Also, we buy Christmas ornaments from every new place we visit.  We have a small collection that will grow over time.  Our Christmas tree is an annual reminder of where we’ve been together: our honeymoon in Yosemite, our Caribbean cruise, our annual summer trek to Solvang, etc.

I love to hear other family traditions, so share any that you love.  Just keep in mind I might steal!

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