Tag Archives: traditions

Blending

Crater Lake picToday was one of those mornings that I found myself hunting for cold-weather running layers for my son’s first winter cross country practice, rounding up loose change for a fundraiser this evening, and helping my youngest print out last-minute pictures of Crater Lake for a poster project. During the typical breakfast hustle, I found myself searching for this random mix of items reminiscent of a junior high scavenger hunt, trying to beat the clock before the bus came.
Next, in a clean-up pass through the house, I dropped a water bottle which rolled under my son’s bed. On my knees peering warily underneath his bed, I discovered some books, a camping chair, several balled-up socks, pages of sheet music, lego bits, a broken pencil, a soccer ball, multiple candy wrappers from a Halloween stash, a sleeping bag, a couple charger cords, and two dimes amidst all the dust jackrabbits (mysterious fluff too big to be labeled mere dust bunnies). Between a sigh of exasperation and a sudden gouge in my knee from a sharp Lego, I tried to remind myself that this was just the hodgepodge of boyhood.
Our lives are a blend of things, experiences and people, intersecting all the time in a tangle of unique ways. Sometimes we get a glimpse of how these daily artifacts blend together by facing what’s under the bed, clearing out a closet, or sorting through what’s landed in our garage.
Blending traditions can be tricky. As young married couples put up their first Christmas trees, they may find themselves negotiating all-white lights  vs. colored lights, opening presents Christmas Eve vs. Christmas morning, turkey vs. ham, etc. None of this is in the wedding vows, folks. Tread lightly and listen wisely.

mixing coffee cake batterAs I start my holiday baking season, I add ingredients into my mixer and watch it all blend together into golden batter. I pour it into pans and sprinkle it with a sugared pecan mix, remembering how my mother-in-law’s hands did this for so many years. Her handwritten recipe is the one I follow now, a tradition I treasure. My husband’s memories of Christmas coffee cake now blend into my children’s taste of Christmas morning.

Holidays are a time of blending…families from her side and his; families from in-town and out-of-state; recipes from generations past and new ones beckoning from Pinterest; traditions old and spontaneously new. Each year the blending may have a different flavor depending on who is gathered around your table or who may no longer be in  pictures with you Christmas morning. A natural blending over time allows things to settle in gradually, highlighting what experiences are important to the family storyline and are carving deeply into tradition.

coffee cake overflowingSome holiday activities we’ve  incorporated over time in an intentional way, such as an evening family advent activity.

Other traditions have erupted from spontaneous fun, like marshmallow tag that leaves us all giggling and breathless, overflowing with a sense of family connectedness.

Blending all of our usual family activities in with those of the holiday can be a challenge. I have to remind myself of a few things to navigate this season well:

Proceed at a moderate pace. (maintain own pace, not others’)

Enjoy the distinct parts of the season.

Cherish the beautiful outcomes; laugh at the jumbled messes that also come along naturally.

Treasure the history that has gotten us to this point.

Allow dreams of the future to unfold under the golden lights of the Christmas tree.

Savor slowness.

Loosen grudges; tighten hugs.

Encourage others in their way of celebrating; leave competition on the sports field.

Reach out.  (Repeat often.)

Hum with the Christmas music; sparkle with the lights.

Take a brisk walk to re-energize and re-focus.

Surprise someone with an act of kindness.

Make more eye contact in the hustle.

Let the to-do list marinate overnight.

And, always, always save room for coffee cake.

coffee cake

 

 

 

Simply Gratitude

Sometimes family traditions can be simple and not take much time, yet still foster a strong connection between family members.

starting gratitude pumpkinThe Gratitude Pumpkin is super easy. All you do is select one of your pumpkins that wasn’t sacrificed into a jack-o-lantern and grab a sharpie marker.

Then simply take turns writing a word or phrase of gratitude.

I love the unfolding of different colors and handwriting scrawls as the words of gratitude wind themselves around and around the pumpkin. As the pumpkin fills with gratitude messages, we realize that our gratitude is wide, ranging from Legos to forgiveness. We see a mutual appreciation for family, friends, and a safe country.

gratitude pumpkin signingLast year we did this activity on our front porch, adding a gratitude in the morning while we waited for the bus …or in the evening as we enjoyed impromptu frisbee or football out in our front yard.

It’s very casual, not structured at all.

gratitude pumpkin signing

We didn’t realize until later that our little pumpkin was blessing whoever came to our door. In a season of frequent deliveries from Amazon or having family over for holiday events, it became a special welcome moment as people paused to read about our thankfulness.

gratitude pumpkin (cont)
Gratitude pumpkin

 

Simply Gratitude.

Now that’s a tradition that we can get behind.

Join us?

 

 

 

Marshmallow Tag

Dinner is over. Boys are in the kitchen messing around doing dishes. Dad and I sneak out calmly walk out of the kitchen and down the hall. The boys’  voices escalate to fever pitch blend in cheerful unison to their blaring peppy playlist. We look at each other knowingly: it’s time.

We kick off our shoes and I toss off my hoodie.

Taking a deep breath, we rip open two bags of large marshmallows and load up. Armed with handfuls of sugary fluffballs, we are ready

Marshmallows

We pad in our socks stealthily approach the boys unaware and we begin to bombard them with marshmallows. Shrieking erupts as boys duck behind counters and hide behind each other.

We fire off as many marshmallows as we can before they have time to retrieve them and return a barrage at us. Soon they are pelting each other with marshmallows, then ganging up on us. Giggles break out between shrieks of delight and whispers of strategy.

I get a brief reprieve as I corral our golden retriever to put her outside; she’s enthusiastically smacking her lips from the mouthful of marshmallows she’s already snagged.

White blobs blur by my head and soft splats echo as marshmallows find their wriggling targets.

Marshmallow tag

Alliances form and my husband guards my back as I gather up more soft ammo, now sticky from all those sweaty hands. We emerge back-to-back and throw jet-puffed balls at whatever moving targets we can see. The tide turns quickly as our conniving loving offspring smush the marshmallows into large balls and throw at us rapid-fire.

We duck, breathing heavily gazing at each other with laughter…and my husband eventually calls a truce the finale when he sees that more marshmallows are sticking to cabinets than bouncing off the floors.

During arsenal reloading clean-up, the boys swap stories and exclaim excitedly as they find marshmallows in curious places.

indoor snowball fightIt’s a wrap: another no tears and nobody got hurt successful indoor snowball fight is in the books.

It’s cheap inexpensive family fun that allows parents to act silly crazy  wild like kids and to bring a little outdoor experience inside when winter days are stretching long.



Marshmallow tag is a win-win!!



Dare to ambush surprise your kiddos with some spontaneous fun. If you’re feeling especially naughty brave, go for the jumbo-sized marshmallows snowballs!

 

 

 

Legacy

 

quilts

 

People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

A neighbor that our family holds dear in our hearts just said goodbye to a mother of 90 years. Such a good, long life, but still hard to lose at any age, always.

As he reflected on his mother, this is what I heard:handpicked

she loved her children dearly

she worked hard in life

she poured into her family

she stood up for us, and stood by us in every circumstance

she knew how to make each person feel important; special

I never met this woman, but I listened to this son’s heartfelt sentiments and I began to think…

Feelings trump Actions a lot of the time. The memory bank cements the details with the years added; but the feelings infused to the spirit stay long and hard in our minds. Our heartstrings are attached to those feelings.

This is good news to the daily grind of life!! But a strong, powerful and important lesson to pay attention to…

whatever the event, circumstance or situation, be it good, beautiful or ugly; you can CHOOSE to end each well. There is an enemy that would really like to keep this a secret, but oh what a great Godly weapon against such one!!!

 

teacup

Listen: God can restore anything when we choose to give to to Him. Every time that we show LOVE, KINDNESS, GENTLENESS, SELF-CONTROL... we are ending it well. The people around you- Family, Friends, Strangers, God-orchestrated People will remember how they felt in your presence long after any event or meeting.

I know that I strive to point to the Lord with my life. I want to look like a big, beautiful, messed-up, imperfect, redeemed, restored person that ended things well because the Lord showed me how. And then that irritating enemy can’t replay any tapes to confuse me later, because God stops him, and reminds me how we ended even the hardest things in life well; together.

reflection

 

Embrace every moment you’re given. Time flies and moments are fleeting, but as you give the very best of you,  then our Lord can use that to be part of your legacy.

Mercy Me has a song called “In the Blink of an Eye”

 

 

shamrock

Here are parts of our Legacy:

This shamrock plant is in my house and my sister-in-law’s because it reminds us of our mother-in-law who loved this plant. We both have quilts that go back to great-grandparents in our lives that we wrap our children in. We share stories about loved ones that have gone on before us, and we cook with the recipes of cherished women in our past. All of these simple things implant feelings on our hearts; they are an evolving legacy…

Each transition that we take hold of will add another layer of texture to our lives and our children’s memories of home.

 

But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children. Psalm 103:17

Traditions

“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!”  Psalm 118:24

 

decoratingI love traditions. I get sentimental about ones passed down from generation to generation. Like family recipes, photo albums, or holiday gatherings. There is something exciting about creating your own, too.  We began making gingerbread houses each year with cousins when our two families united. It began with the adults doing the baking and decorating and the babies watching or sleeping, and then shifted over the years to our boys picking elaborate themes and much candy eating and laughter!!

As I add the layer of traditions into our home, I feel it’s important to take some of mine and a few of my husband’s and mix them together. Christmas morning is really yummy at our house because we make his mom’s coffee cake and my mom’s blueberry muffins; they both are on the table because that brings back our childhood.  But I think it’s important to thread the next layer by starting some traditions with your children as well. You will be initiated into our winter family tradition of an Indoor Snowball Fight (marshmallow pelting)  if you come over in December! And expect to see a basket of crazy Christmas socks by the door for all who enter; they are great for sliding in! We might occasionally eat holiday cookies for breakfast during this month too and giggle in our pajamas… This weaving of multiple threads of tradition really creates a beautiful layer in a home. winter painting

A cherished friend places a grandmother’s oil painting of a winter scene out each December to remember her.
moments

My boys love it when we take a silly moment in our day!

 

bedtime snack

Hot cocoa breaks and bedtime snacks are favorites with us.

Another mom does a craft-a-day during the month of December with her two kids. Our family loves to make gifts for grandparents and neighbors.crafting

Share stories of family events, look at photo albums, curl up with hot cocoa or cider and read, play in the snow, laugh out loud together, bake something yummy and indulge this season in traditions.

 

girls and gingerbread

–When you have two households of boys, your gingerbread morphs into Superheroes sometimes!

Feathers, Rocks, and Walking Sticks

Every one of us collects something — it may be a knickknacks or a journal of memories; it could be a shoe obsession or a box of treasured cards. flowers and burlap bottleOur children are no exception to this desire and are always bringing treasures into our homes. A smooth rock, a ruffled feather, a yarn necklace. What do we do with these things? Some are just passing through; headed quickly out the door, but others become cherished and meaningful. What looks like debris to one, may actually be the prized token in your child’s day. So how do we differentiate the useless from the priceless?

The artist side of me loves this layer in a home. But I also love order, so…I have given a patch of the kitchen counter over to our collections. Right as you walk in the door, where everyone can see, I’ve created a rotating gallery.

There is an unspoken love that radiates from a child seeing that you have highlighted what’s meaningful to them.

I may keep a leaf, an acorn or a feather for a while. But I know it’s all right to send it out as well. The object is not the main point of interest; it is that child who felt secure enough to share the beauty or awe and wonder with you. I don’t want to miss out on the blessings because they aren’t packaged the way I might expect.

We encounter God’s presence in moments of awe and wonder, in acts of justice and compassion, in loving relationships and in the experiences of everyday living.

painted handsEach Fall, my boys and I go on a nature walk. I adore this tradition that I stumbled into a few years back. What began as a walk to get some energy out of rambunctious boys, is now requested unanimously by all of us. On our way, we collect walking sticks: big, small, crooked and all! We spread newspaper on the patio table and paint them as many colors as we can find; with patterns galore. We laugh at all the paint we get on us in the process, and I snap pictures for our memory bank. Once we’ve had our fun, I collect them and bundle them somewhere in our home for the winter months to come.

Just when I think that I’m doing all this for the children, it dawns on me that it is also for me. Because later in those moments when I’m tired, impatient, thread-bare… I walk past those brilliant colors of sticks,  and it grounds me again. My focus is restored in that moment; the importance of my family is in front of me. These sticks have become treasures in our home, and when they are broken and gone, those beautiful colors will still be bold in my heart.

There are little bobelieve - acornswls tucked into table groupings for a child’s treasure to be showcased in our home. We have precious yarn weavings strung across a lamp or curtain rod from time-to-time. I will tape that picture on the hall mirror for all to see for a week or two. I will leave the birthday balloons hanging by their bed the whole month to remember the celebration of that child.

Take interest in the details of the heart when it comes to your family for this is a richly woven layer that they will carry with them forever.

“Take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of YOUR heart.” Psalm 37:4