A few thoughts on traditions, rituals, and family culture

For years, I’ve had a drafted blog post all about family traditions. The post has never been ready to share with others, and it’s still not finished. There is so much to write about when it comes to family traditions, and it’s a topic that I think about a lot.

What we do as a family to celebrate – all the little rituals and routines we practice – these are the things that create our family culture, our children’s childhood memories. There are the traditions we continue from our own families of origin, traditions we intentionally institute on our own, and then the happy accidental traditions that happen once and then we keep it going.

The blog post I’ve been writing has taken a bunch of different forms during drafting. Currently, it looks like a summary of the traditions we practice currently or aspire to institute for all of the events and holidays in a calendar year. Yet the post never feels quite ready to publish. Here’s why:

  • It’s overwhelming to write about an entire year of traditions – birthdays, milestones, adoption days – in one post.
  • We don’t know what all of our traditions are yet. Our kids are young – 5 and 3, with a little (adoptive) child on the way at some point – and when the kids are really little, you have time to experiment with different routines and rituals. While Edgar was younger, we did a lot of experimenting – trying out different traditions and seeing how they fit our family. Sometimes we’re still doing that.
  • Certain traditions don’t really get going until milestones are met – meaning, we won’t know how tooth fairy magic works in our house until Edgar loses a tooth!
  • I have a lot of mixed feelings about certain holidays and traditions that I sometimes feel pressured to celebrate.

I find family traditions fascinating and so fun. I love hearing about what other families do and either stealing the idea or just enjoying the glimpse into that family’s culture. I also love the process of cultivating family traditions – the decisions and memories and logistics and compromise that go into deciding how a family celebrates. When it comes to our own process for adopting family traditions, it usually involves a lot of (over)thinking on my end and occasionally includes happy accidents.

My hope moving forward is to break down this topic a little more and explain the little ways we celebrate each holiday and season and my thought process behind it – including some of my mixed feelings and how I handle them. Stay tuned!

Photo by Flora Westbrook on

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