Friday, June 10, 2011

10 Things on the 10th

Here's a fun new group bloggy project organized by Shimelle! 10 Things on the 10th...
 Having recently written the first post in a series about what 'we always' do on our trips to the beach, got me thinking about traditions and that even though our family is quite young, we already have some cherished traditions.
So, my 10 things this month are:

Our 10 Favorite Family Traditions

(These aren't necessarily in order of favorite...except for the first one. It's the best!)
1. Family Hug:
        I love waving goodbye to my husband as he leaves for work...I've done it for years, from even before our kids were born. When Big Brother was little, maybe during his one-year-old year, he went through his first cling-to-Daddy phase. He got so upset every morning when my husband got ready to leave for work, so we started doing a family hug before waving as a way to try and ease the transition. One of us would hold him and we'd wrap our arms around each other and squeeze him in the middle. Then before letting go, everyone noisily kissed everyone else in the circle. It has become an embedded part of our daily routine and we've added a start-our-day prayer to the ritual as well. So we lift, squeeze, pray, kiss, then wave! We even added a fourth member in the circle who has quickly learned to love this tradition as much as the rest of us do. It's a vital way for us to connect as a family before we start our busy days.

2. A Child's Christmas in Wales
        This is a tradition that I carried with me from my childhood into my own family. My mom loves the work of poet Dylan Thomas and somewhere along the line she found a recording of him reading some of his own poems. One of the poems on the album is 'A Child's Christmas in Wales' and we would listen to it every Christmas Eve. There were sometimes hot drinks, always a plate of Christmas cookies, and always a fire to stare into while listening to the mesmerizing, lilting voice of the poet. When we started celebrating Christmas in our own home (rather than with relatives) I searched out the Dylan Thomas CD and we still listen to it every Christmas Eve. It's just not Christmas without it!

3. Weekend Breakfasts
         This is a relatively new tradition to us and was born out of my sweet husband's generosity and desire to take care of me. When I was still feeding Little Brother in the middle of the night, hubby would get up with the boys when they woke up on Saturdays and let me stay in bed. Somewhere along the line he added breakfast into this treat and now he's really, really good at making breakfast. My favorite: he puts the glasses in the freezer the night before so we can have orange juice in chilled glasses. Super yum!

4. Leaf Raking Thanksgiving
         We live in a neighborhood with a lovely canopy of mature oaks and maples. It is a priceless and beautiful part of our neighborhood and adds incredible character. It does mean a lot of leaves to rake in the fall, though. The year that Big Brother was a baby, we just never had time to get around to raking and, come Thanksgiving morning, we realized that we had a bunch of guests with a bunch of idle hands! So, we put those idle hands to work raking our yard and now it's a tradition! Around here, Thanksgiving is: french toast casserole for breakfast, then rake, watch football, snack, play with little boys outside, then dinner. (At least I added another yummy cooked meal for their efforts!)

5. Summer Beach Trips
          We are incredibly blessed to have a very generous friend who loans us a place to stay at the beach in Ocean City. Because the stay is free and it's relatively close, this has morphed into a summer tradition of hanging out at the beach almost once a month. It's fun and relaxing and just a different pace of life. As soon as we come home, Big Brother asks: 'when are we going back?"  We're always happy to be able to say: "In just a few weeks!"
   I recently started another series I'm calling 'We Always' about some of the things that we do when we go to the beach in the summer. Check it out - there will be more as the summer progresses so come back and visit if you like it!

6. Antietam Concert
           I play with the Maryland Symphony Orchestra and every year on the nearest Saturday to the 4th of July, we play a free concert on Antietam Battlefield. Antietam is one of the best preserved battlefields from the American Civil war and it is a meaningful place to celebrate our country's Independence Day. As the sun sets, we play patriotic music for thousands of celebrating picnickers, then, of course, they set off fireworks. Since I am a musician and we exit behind the stage, I always have a front row view of the fireworks. Standing on a gravel road, leaning my elbows on a Civil-War era fence, watching fireworks explode over rolling cornfields that have battalions of fireflies hovering and blinking just over the gently waving stalks - all this with the shadows of the quiet, hulking mountains as a backdrop makes for an unforgettable 4th of July experience.

7. Christmas Cookies
           Another tradition pulled forward from my childhood. My mom made many recipes of Christmas cookies every year - some of them family recipes and some from friends -  but as I got into high school and college, things got in the way and she just couldn't do as much baking during the holiday season anymore. I just couldn't bear to go without my favorite cookies so I took over the baking and simply carried that right on into my marriage. We still have many of the standard cookies I grew up with, but, over the years, I've collected a few recipes and stopped making others. I start baking at Thanksgiving and sometimes I'm still baking on the 23rd! (the 24th is off limits...if it's not done by then, it's not getting done!)

8. Sunday Dinners
            This tradition was started when my sister and brother-in-law moved to town several years ago. We never had family close when I was growing up so we never had anything remotely like a weekly get together night. For 4 years we have seen them almost every Sunday and it has been a wonderful, fun-filled time. Sadly, they are moving which means this tradition will be ending shortly, but it will always a precious time fondly remembered.

9. Halloween Parade and Open House
            We have a very friendly and community oriented neighborhood and one of our biggest community events is the Halloween Parade. all the kids (and more from surrounding neighborhoods) come out and hundreds of kids walk the parade route, hang out at the park for costume show-off time, then go trick-or-treating. all the neighbors are out and, if they're not in the parade, they are sitting on their porches and in their driveways with bucket loads of candy. A few years ago we decided to invite all our friends for an open house and it's become a very popular gathering. It's a good thing that we've always had good weather...I don't think we could fit everyone in if it rained!

10. Easter Tree
            Three years ago we decided after reading 'Surprised By Hope' by N.T. Wright that we wanted to make Easter a bigger deal for our kids - trying to make it at least equal billing with Christmas. I thought that since a Christmas tree is one of the biggest decorative elements of Christmas, that I would try to come up with something parallel for Easter. My solution (brilliant, if I do say so myself, wink wink) was to buy a live tree (some kind of spring flowering type) at the beginning of Lent and we would place a butterfly on it each day during Lent - the butterfly symbolizing the 'dying' of the caterpillar and emerging as a new creation. Then, once Easter is over, we donate the tree to someone or some organization. It has worked splendidly and Big Brother now looks forward to helping put the butterflies on the tree...and some days we even had to put two on (one for each brother)!

Well, if you've made it this far, you've done quite a lot of reading! This turned out to be a bit longer than I planned... Thanks for visiting my blog - I hope you enjoyed my 10 Things on the 10th! See more 10 Things here!


helena said...

I lvoe how you have some old and some new that you created - I love hearing about family traditions that are special to them

Mary Ellyn said...

Great list - thanks for sharing! I live just north of Ocean City, west of Fenwick Island.

Jane said...

what lovely traditions, I have enjoyed reading them

Ruth said...

I've loved reading about your traditions ~ thanks for sharing.

Connie said...

great traditions~loved the photos!!

Rebekah said...

What fun traditions to document with this blogging project!

Photographing Mom said...

Awesome post! Really enjoyed reading!

Cheryl M said...

LOVED reading about your traditions, especially the Thanksgiving leaf raking! What a great idea!

furrypig said...

I loved reading about all your family traditions thanks or sharing

Em said...

what lovely ideas! i especially like the sound of number 3 - my fella could learn a thing or two from that!

Anonymous said...

I love family hugs, dinners on Sunday and summer beach trips. Great family traditions.

S said...

Those are wonderful traditions to help secure your family's bond , thanks for sharing.

humel said...

Oh, I *loved* reading this post :) What fabulous traditions! I think I should suggest that The Doctor takes on #3 ;)