Thursday, October 28, 2010

TRADITION, tradition, Tradition....

    My family loves traditions and we can even get a bit obsessive about them, as do many folks. Example: How many families eat the exact same foods for Thanksgiving or Easter or Christmas year after year after year after year -- and if anyone alters the menu or a modifies a particular recipe, someone else invariably makes an unflattering comment. I guess that means we are creatures of habit -- either that or we are stuck in some pretty deep ruts.

A Few Traditions that Work For Us
1. Tradition Number One:
One of our favorite family traditions has always involved The Mom's birthday. I think early on my husband despaired about what to do with the kids when my birthday rolled around each February. Make a cake? Never. Even after thirty-six years of marriage, he can only manage to rustle up about 5-6 things in the kitchen and two of them are hot dogs and scrambled eggs. So cooking was out, but somewhere along the line, good man that he is, he came up with the idea of buying a frozen yogurt cake (white chocolate mousse, yes, thank you ma'am) and serving it to our family for BREAKFAST. Viola, The Mom's birthday suddenly was elevated to star status. You can imagine the brownie points my kids earned when they went to school every year and told their friends that their mom's birthday was the one time of the year that they got to eat CAKE and ICE CREAM for BREAKFAST. Through the years many of their friends even asked me if this were really true. Keep in mind that at that point in time I was a recovering hippie who was trying not to feed my children too many refined and processed foods.  The dear man even continued the tradition the first year or two after child number four went to college, but it just wasn't the same, and besides my burgeoning hips didn't and still don't need any more encouragement at this point than they already have.
2. In light of our aforementioned family tradition, Little One and The Daughter and Son-in-law arose early on the morning of Little One's first birthday and took her to the iconic Pancake Pantry here in Nashvegas for chocolate-chip pancakes. Now mind you, the child has had only
one teeny tiny bit of chocolate and absolutely no refined sugar in the entire first year of her life. Also keep in mind that she is child number ONE, and my observation is that parents have a lot more control, a lot of good intentions, and many more health-conscious rules with child number ONE. Things tend to loosen up the more kids you have. Can you imagine how Little One responded to this culinary delight? You are right. She went crazy. And she made quite a spectacle of herself with her wild hair, jammies, and chocolate covered face. I think it will be a tradition that will be embraced. Oh and next year I am going to teach her to beg for some butter and syrup, too!

3. Thirteen presents when you turn thirteen!
This may sound a bit extravagant, but trust me it is not. I had friends who always gave their children the number of presents to correspond to their number of years, but I never had the money to even contemplate such a thing. However, The Dad and I both felt that the thirteenth birthday was a rite of passage in the life of a child that somehow needed to be marked with something special. So, as each of our children approached this birthday, I began to scour the dollar stores and my favorite little cheap shops for some special, but every inexpensive treats. The first gift was always a "millionaire candybar" and would have directions included on how to find the next gift. Sometimes (we did this routine four times as we had four children) the gifts were arranged around a theme (one of ours was into camping at the time) and other children just received an odd assemblage of inexpensive treats. The best present of course was always the last, and would be something that the child could get excited about (we always gave them a financial limit as to what we would be willing to spend, and they had to give us several options which we sometimes still ignored). The gifts were hidden throughout the house and clues to the next gift were always included inside the previous gift. Part of the reason we developed this tradition is that by the time we got to the 13th birthday I was usually pooped out on parties. The good thing is that this naturally became a big family celebration, and the searching for treasure component of this tradition always made it fun for everyone!
                                                                                   All photos are courtesy of Fotosearch


  1. Love this idea for 13th birthdays. Anna turns 11 in January and I've been trying to think of a lovely way to honor her. I think 11 is an important transition year, especially for girls, so I think we need something to mark this year. Maybe this or a variation is the way to go!

  2. What fantastic ideas - all of them! (Oooo - the cake for breakfast? BRILLIANT brownie points for Dad, for sure!!) Stopping by from the Red Dress Club ... I enjoyed this stop (and think I will be borrowing the 13 presents idea, in about 6 years!) In case I forget to thank you for the idea then, I'll thank you now! Thanks!


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