When you you get married and combine families, it can be sort of interesting trying to figure out a way to blend all of the different traditions into one new family. Your dad and I have tried throughout the years to pay homage to long-standing traditions while understanding that we are also a new family and we need to come up with traditions that work for our own little family, too.
Traditions are important to families as they give us a sense of belonging, comfort, and "home" no matter where we are. Something as simple as a smell or a taste can transport us from wherever we are in the world back to one small place and time in our lives. As your mom and dad, we want you to experience things in your life that made us happy when we were little people, but we also want to create new experiences that we can all be a part of as you grown up. What is the saying? "Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other is gold!" Well, traditions are like that, too! We make new ones and celebrate how wonderful the new things can be, but we treasure the old ways of doing things, too.
We've only been a family with you for a year now, but we've already started a few new traditions and upheld a few older ones. I'm sure as the years go by we will add a few different things to the list, but for now, here is how we celebrate throughout the year!
*Birthdays - We all do different things for our birthdays. For my birthday (mom) we usually go out for Japanese dinner at one of my favorite restaurants with a few family members. It's one of the few times a year I get delicious Japanese food so I always look forward to it! Your dad likes to go downtown on his birthday and scoop up a bunch of the freebies given out by local businesses. Some of those things include: free drinks, free popcorn, free movie, free movie rental, and various options for free food/dessert, too! Your first birthday was a big party at our house, but we may change it up next year because our house was PACKED and it was a bit hard to move around with so many people. One tradition I began at your first birthday was making your birthday decorations. I made that Yo Gabba Gabba banner out of felt and it's still hanging up a month later because you keep pointing at it and getting excited! I love that something I made by hand makes you so happy, so I'll probably keep doing it! I'm not sure what I'll make next year, but I hope you end up liking it as much as your banner! I also plan on continuing to make your cake/cupcakes and other party-themed treats (for your party and for your day care buddies).
*St. Patrick's Day - For your first St. Patrick's Day, I took the afternoon off of work and met your dad downtown for the annual St. Patrick's Day parade! We didn't know it then, but it was the start of a fun new tradition. This year the parade is on a Saturday so neither of us have to take the day off! You're also going to be a lot more aware of what is going on this year and I'm not sure if that will be good or bad. I hope the loud noises don't scare you! I'm guessing you're going to love it, though! And, of course, we all wear green so we don't get pinched!
*Fourth of July - When I was growing up the Fourth of July usually meant going to see the big city fireworks display. We didn't really do fireworks at the house much (something about your money literally going up in smoke?) I'm still not sure how much of that we're going to do with you, but I do want to get some sparklers this year because I think you'll really like those (from a safe distance, of course!) Last year we went to your Grandmas' house for a BBQ. We'll probably do that again this year. We also went to the city BBQ and walked around sampling some of the local cuisine. Depending on the weather, we'll probably keep doing that, too! When you're old enough that you aren't scared by the big booms of the city fireworks, we'll start doing that. Until then, I'll just silently (or not-so-silently) curse those who defy the in-town fireworks ban and set off things that keep you awake at night!
*Piotique - Piotique is a celebration held in my small hometown every September. Piotique is a mixture of "pioneer" and "antique." There are lots of food booths and craft booths, music, and a big parade through the streets. We went last September to take part in the fun and so family who still lives in there could see you. It was a long day (complete with 2 hour car trips there and back), but you were so well behaved! You seemed to really like the parade, too. This year you will probably be a bit less well-behaved (being an opinionated 19 month old by then), but we'll still go and you'll probably still have fun between toddler tantrums!
*Halloween - Our city does a really neat thing every Halloween where kids can go to the downtown district and go trick-or-treating to local businesses. It's great because the kids are all safe, they get a TON of candy, and the adults enjoy looking at all the cute kiddos running around in their costumes. We did this last year with you (in your cute Jayhawk costume!!!) and you genuinely seemed to enjoy looking at all of the other kids. We met up with a few buddies (Baby O and Baby R) and you got your first taste of candy when dad shared a sucker with you. We went over to the Grandmas' house after we were done downtown and you got a few fun little goodies from them! We will probably do all of that again this year! As adults, your dad and I have another Halloween tradition that we like to do. We have a big party up at our business for all of our friends! You probably won't be able to come to that party for a looooooooooong time!
*Thanksgiving - Your dad and I started our own Thanksgiving traditions a couple of years ago when we decided we were through with traveling all over on the holidays to see various people. Instead, we decided to keep Thanksgiving (and Christmas) at our house for our own little family and friends. Now we hold Thanksgiving dinner (or lunch, actually) at our house! We usually make the turkey, green bean casserole, stuffing, mashed potatoes (no less than 10 lbs at a time because your dad LOVES leftovers!), gravy, biscuits, and pumpkin pies. We always have your Grandpa come as well as other family if they can make it. We also invite friends over who may not be able to go home over the holiday. We always eat a TON of food; our favorite tradition of all! After all of the feasting (maybe not the same day...) we put up our Christmas decorations and listen to Christmas albums!
*The time leading up to Christmas - There isn't an exact time that we do these things, but this last year during the time leading up to Christmas (between Thanksgiving and Christmas) we did several things that I want to keep doing in the future. We got your picture taken with Santa; a tradition I want to continue as I made that picture into a cute little 2011 ornament to hang on our mantle this upcoming year. Each year your Santa picture will get turned into an ornament until you tell me that you're too old for Santa... then I'll be sad, but I understand. We also made ornaments out of Sculpy Clay to hang on our tree! Each year I want to make you an ornament to put on the tree. This last year I made you a panda ornament (because pandas are easy to make, look like what they're supposed to be, and even though a panda isn't technically a bear, I made it because I call you "baby bear" a lot!)
Here you are with your ornament looking less-than-impressed by my skills!
*Christmas Eve - Christmas Eve is a really important time, especially for your dad, because his family used to do all of the great immediate-family stuff that night instead of on Christmas. To pay tribute to that tradition, this past Christmas we had your grandmas, your grandpa, and Caelan over to eat dinner, listen to Christmas albums, and open presents! We had ham, green bean casserole, dinner rolls, and scalloped potatoes. We all opened our presents and enjoyed each other's company! Christmas Eve is also the night Santa comes and fills our stockings with goodies for us to open Christmas Day!
*Christmas Day - On Christmas Day of this past year we went to the Grandmas' house for lunch and presents with some of the extended family. We opened presents from the Grandmas and opened stockings from the Grandmas and from each other in our immediate family! Out of all of the presents you got, your favorite thing was a half-full water bottle. It figures!
*Food Traditions - It isn't difficult to see that food is important to our family (seeing as how both your dad and I are fighting the bulge battles, currently). There are a few things my family holds dear, food-wise, that I want to share with you as you grow older. Some of those things include: your Great-Grandma G's sugar cookies, her Jackpot casserole, angel-food cake with pink icing, your Grandma P's potato soup, and your mom's (mine!) AMAZING peanut butter cookies, chocolate chip cookies, and delicious cheesecakes! You come from a long line of women who can rock a kitchen and I can't wait to pass these skills on to you! Just be a little bit more self-controlled around these foods than your dear old mom was (is.... sigh).
As time goes by we will create more and more fun traditions as a family. When you grow up and decide to start your own family (if you choose to do so), you can pick and choose from some of our traditions to share with your new family, while creating new and fun ones that are special to you!