Our family has a lot of little traditions. We’ve previously shared five of them that we do on a weekly basis. In this post, we’ll share five yearly traditions that bring us together as a family.
Tradition 1 – Campouts with Dad
Every May, Junior and I go camping with a group of dads and their sons. The campout starts Friday afternoon and goes through Saturday afternoon. When we arrive on Friday, we play sports and canoe around the lake. In the evening, we have a roaring campfire, we do Dutch oven cooking, and we make s’mores. After breakfast in the morning we do a small service project for the land owners to thank them for letting us camp there. We wrap up the campout with lunch and a few short games.
A few weeks later in June, Addy and I do a similar father and daughter campout with the same group of dads. We spend almost all of this campout hanging out down by the lake (sports aren’t a big hit among this group of 3-10 year-old girls). Most of the other dads take their daughters out in canoes and kayaks, but not us. Addy is terrified of the water and prefers to keep her feet firmly planted on shore. So, we play in the sand and talk about things like princesses and beautiful dresses (two of Addy’s favorite subjects). This campout also features a campfire and s’mores at night time, but Addy’s mainly interested in just eating the chocolate by itself.
While I’m off camping with one of the kids, Sam always does something fun with the kid who stays home. This last year Sam took Addy to a girl’s night out at the YMCA while Junior and I camped. Then Sam took Junior to a baseball game while Addy and I were away.
The kids love these campouts (and the activities they get to do while their sibling is out camping) so much that they talk about them the whole year around.
Tradition 2 – The Christmas Pickle
Every year we decorate our Christmas tree with a glass pickle. On Christmas morning, Sam and I hide the pickle somewhere in the tree and the kids go looking for it. When they get older, we’ll probably have a prize for whoever finds it first. For now, it’s just fun to watch them dig through the tree hunting for the elusive ornament.
Sam and I especially love this tradition because it breaks the kids away from their presents for a short period of time and it gets us spending time together as a family.
Tradition 3 – Donuts on Birthdays
Our kids love donuts – what kid doesn’t? They used to ask for them every time we drove by a Dunkin’s Donuts, which is a lot. Then, one day, Sam had a flash of inspiration and decided that donuts should only be a birthday treat. We talked about it at our weekly family council and decided that every birthday, each member of the family would get one donut. Other than that, we are a donut free family. Amazingly, the kids went right along with this brilliant idea.
While this little tradition began as a way to maintain our parental sanity and limit our family’s donut intake to four a year, it’s turned out to be a lot of fun. For the kids it’s especially exciting if the birthday falls on a weekday because we all wake up early and go get donuts before I head off to work.
Tradition 4 – Slurpees on the Last Day of School
When Junior first discovered Slurpees, he immediately fell in love. He’d beg us for them all the time, even when we weren’t anywhere near a 7-11.
As Sam and I thought about a way to stop his constant Slurpee hounding, we looked to the success of the birthday donut tradition. Since birthdays already had a treat, we decided that Slurpees would be reserved for the last day of school. Again, we were surprised when Junior went along with this decision with practically no pushback.
Now, he and Addy look forward to their yearly Slurpee so much that they’re already talking about how good next year’s will be.
Tradition 5 – New Year’s Eve Interviews
Every New Year’s Eve we sit down and record a five to ten minute interview for each family member. We ask questions about the previous year, things like:
- “What do you remember most about the last year?”
- “What were the big events in your life that happened this last year?”
- “How have you changed over the course of the year?”
We then ask questions about the next year, like:
- “What are you most looking forward to next year?”
- “How do you want to grow as a person next year?”
When we’re interviewing the kids, we adapt the questions to the kids’ age and maturity level. We also ask them questions like:
- “Who are your friends?”
- “What is your teacher’s name?”
- “What do you like doing at school?”
- “What’s your favorite color?”
We also watch the interviews from previous years. This part is just as fun as making the current year’s interviews. As a parent, it’s especially amazing to see how much the kids have grown in such a short period of time. At some point when the kids get older (maybe when they graduate from college or get married) we’ll put together videos for each of them that highlight the best portions of each of their interviews over the years.