In a few weeks the holiday season will be upon us, in all its glory. What traditions are you anticipating as the sounds, sights and smells of Thanksgiving and Christmas approach? In my youth, I remember our family’s commencement of the Christmas season. It began Thanksgiving night as we turned on the large-globed Christmas lights that trimmed our roof. I loved the rainbow-like glow they gave to our windows and snow-capped shrubs. I looked forward to covertly sharing “The Twelve Days of Christmas” with some unsuspecting family, listening to my Dad read the Christmas story from Luke, and writing Christmas letters to Jesus. Many of our most wonderful family memories are liltingly wrapped in tradition.
This delightful little book offers a menagerie of ideas for creating traditions. Kimberly L. Bytheway and Diane H. Loveridge, a mother-daughter team, with the help of friends and family, have compiled a book of traditions that will make you want to celebrate life and cherish family relationships. From fireworks on New Year’s to an Egg Roll-Off on Easter, Bytheway and Loveridge generate some serious excitement for the seasons. After reading, I vowed I would never let another holiday sneak up on me. They share ideas for birthdays, baptisms, family scripture study and Saturday chores – they even offer ways to increase family harmony and decrease television watching!
The book caters mostly to young families who want to establish fun yet meaningful traditions. Some traditions are silly and entertaining, others teach a spiritual message, deepen understanding of gospel principles and champion individual family members. Each is meant to promote family unity and love.
Traditions is the kind of book you will want to pull from the shelf often, a gift that could be used over and over again. As families grow and change, so do traditions. Bytheway and Loveridge understand this. “Just because people are related to each other doesn’t mean that they have good relationships…we realize that every family is different – our goal is to simply give you a variety of ideas in the hopes that there will be a few you can use. It isn’t necessarily what you do, but that you do something.”
Here are a few examples. On Valentine’s Day, “Make sure that everyone in the family wakes up to a special Valentine from Mom and Dad. Daughters might wake up to a single rose in their bedroom with a love note from Dad. Sons might awaken to a small box of chocolates with a love note from Mom.”
Kathy Shlendorf contributes this Christmas Eve tradition. “We would march the kids in a row, each holding a lit candle, and singing carols as we walked to their rooms. We would start with the youngest and go one by one to the bedrooms, candling’ each child with his or her own carol. We would then blow out that child’s candle. After that, they couldn’t get out of bed until morning.”
Other ideas included a spring snow picnic, sundaes on Sunday, surprise road trips, special Halloween dinner before trick-or-treating, “Kid’s Day” (why not? We celebrate Mother’s and Father’s Day, right?), bundling up in blankets to sit on the front porch when it rains, and last, but not least, my all-time favorite birthday idea, as remembered by Jeffrey M. Loveridge.
“When I was young, I remember being surprised at how many friends at school wished me a happy birthday. I was amazed by how many people knew that it was my birthday, and wondered how they had found out. I didn’t find out until third period, when I changed for gym class and noticed a note taped to my back, written in Mom’s handwriting that said, Today is my birthday. My Mom wrote this note, so don’t tell me it’s here.'”
It is obvious that the Loveridge family thoroughly enjoyed putting this small treasure of a book together. As a “non-traditional afterthought”, they offer this wise insight. “The activities and events that we call traditions are only the means of travel, not the destination. You don’t get together for gingerbread-house decorating so you can have a delicious treat to enjoy (although that is one of the sweeter side benefits). The real purpose is the interaction and strengthening of relationships.”
Traditions should be added to every family library. It exudes a joy for family and the seasons of the earth, a celebratory taking of life in all its gladness and delight.