The holidays are the perfect time to reflect on our families and the traditions we grew up with. There are many classic holiday traditions we remember—having the Thanksgiving family prayer, letting the children light the candles on the Kinara, eating black-eyed peas for the New Year—but one of the great things about growing up is creating new rituals that reflect who we are now that we’re older or parents ourselves. We asked mater mea readers to share some of their family traditions and here are some of our favorites:
Turkey Day Game Day
According to Venita Hill of Norristown, Pennsylvania, “Thanksgiving for my family means ‘game day.’ Not football, but board games and card games. While we eat dessert, the competition kicks in and it’s game on!”
“Since my family lives in different states and different countries, we’re not all able to spend the holidays together,” said mater mea contributing writer Meilan Carter-Gilkey. “So I started a Gratitude Tree. Every Thanksgiving I ask the family, including kids, to email me 3-5 things they are thankful for. I print them onto paper leaves and hang them from a small tree. I send a picture of the tree and the entire list to the family.”
“I’m two years into motherhood and being a mom has made me want to volunteer more,” Melissa of Fab Haute Mama tweeted to us. “So this year I started charity activities for the kids in our family. It feels good and the children love it too.”
Lights, Camera, Action!
“We videotape the tree-decorating process,” said Renee Macalino of Alameda, California. “We’ll play holiday music while we decorate. The videos are a trip to watch. Our oldest, Maya, has grown and has taken much more ownership of decorating as she’s gotten older, and our youngest, Raina, was still crawling the first time she was in one.”
“We build a gingerbread house on Christmas Eve with our 3-year-old daughter Kaelyn,” Abbie Overton of Belmont, North Carolina told mater mea. “It’s a fun way to fill the hours before bedtime.”
“My cousins and I have a breakfast brunch and exchange gifts—just us girls,” said Macalino.
“We use photograph ornaments on our tree to help keep family who has passed away in our celebration and to teach the children about their family,” Carter-Gilkey told us.
“Even though my son is in his second year of college,” Hill said, “I still wait for him to go to sleep on Christmas Eve and I sneak the presents under the tree as if Santa came in the middle of the night.”
Hot Cocoa Photo
“On Christmas morning I take a photo of our hot cocoa in the morning since my co-worker makes me homemade marshmallows,” Virginia Childress of Monterey Park, California, told mater mea. “It started off with two mugs for just Ahmad and me when we first got married. Then it was two mugs and a bottle when Ahmir was born. Then it was two mugs, one bottle, and a sippie cup when Naima was born, then it was two mugs, two sippie cups and a bottle when Nia was born. This year it will be two mugs and three sippie cups near the lit tree!”
“We recently started a tradition on Christmas of pizza and pajamas at my parents because we were so exhausted from the day,” said Courtney Budesa of San Rafael, California. “It’s casual, comfy, and easy.”
New Year’s Eve Reflections
“For New Years, we do the ‘High-Low,’” Childress said. “We share what our lowest and highest moment of the year was, and then we say what we want to accomplish in the New Year. We do this close to midnight.”
“On New Year’s Day we each write out a prayer or hope for the new year,” said Sonya Childress of San Leandro, California. “Then we take the kids to the beach, meditate on our wish, and then throw them in the ocean.”