I find tradition-making - a fairly important aspect of mothering - overwhelming. I kind of navigated around them when we didn't have kids, and it didn't seem so very important when we had just one child who didn't comprehend much. But now that we have two, and two who are walking and generally cognizant, the pressure is on.
Traditions should be meaningful, right? And memorable. And fun. Too, there are so many to choose from - which traditions will be most meaningful and worth the effort? I know that many good things can distract from what is best, including and possibly especially traditions.
Let me explain. Traditions usually surround special days - holidays, or, in their more original format, holy days. Most holidays are meant to be sacred - Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Valentine's, etc. - all have a spiritual origin. Especially Christmas and Easter.
In attempting to make the holy day special, we can sometimes - often - loose sight of its essence. That thing that makes it special without our tampering with it.
On the other hand, asceticism - or having no traditions - can make the holiday fall of the map, de-emphasizing its importance.
So, in setting traditions, I've tried to make sense of both sides of the problem. How do I remember and keep central its original purpose - its original specialness - and still build up traditions around it to support the holiness of the day, inject a healthy dosage of fun, and not cumber me and my family with preparation details such that, again, we are unable to focus on why this day was special in the first place.
After finally nailing Easter, here's what I've learned:
1) Set traditions that help you remember the holy in holiday. Figure out how and when you want to worship throughout the season, and set aside time for it and time for fun. This Easter, I kept Sunday reserved for spiritual traditions - the Easter basket was filled with Sunday outfits and a religious children's book to unwrap. On Good Friday we got our live Easter Bunny - the beginning of our petting zoo, and on Saturday we hunted down Easter Eggs.
2) Keep things super simple. If the prep is kept simple, you'll have more time for the importance of the day. For instance, my Easter basket was simple - just one for them both (and one I already had), and filled with their outfits and one book. Our Easter dinner was simple - lamb leg, brussels sprouts, and Swede (Rutabago here in the States?) fries. I only had to prepare the meat this morning, which allowed me time to read Gideon books and watch Easter Bible videos with him. During the later, Gideon was riveted to the screen and was touched by the videos. We had time for him to tell me what he was feeling - the Holy Ghost - and how it made him happy and quiet. Exactly what I was hoping for. Friday evening, I finished my egg prep in less than an hour while watching a livecast of Handel's Messiah - I prepared and hid only eighteen eggs for the children to find - plenty given their age and attention span.
3) Big, meaningful gifts go longer than many small gifts. Children have a short attention span, but will always remember that one special gift. They can also only handle so much stimulation. We have decided to acquire animals here on our little farmlette. One per year. This was the year of the bunny, as our skunk-catcher's wife ran a bunny farm, which made our decision easy. Instead of buying big chocolate Easter bunnies for our kids and/or stuffed animals, most of which would eventually be thrown away or make us all frustrated by sugar highs, we purchased the real thing. Perhaps next year, we'll pick up some chicks...
|We christened the bunny "Chloe" today.|
|Waiting to hold the Easter Bunny|
* G has transitioned to a toddler bed, which he can get out of. When he wakes, he will go wake Esther up - open her door, and unzip her tent. We now find them peacefully playing upstairs together instead of called up by crying - it is delightful. The other morning, G told me "Esther got up three minutes ago (holding up three fingers); I got up at a quarter to ten."
* Esther has added "ouch" "wow" and "no-no" to her vocabulary. She understands far more than we realize, and is beginning to be able to express her desires, like getting her coat and handing it to us if she wants to go outside, or this morning she took Lance to the back door so she could see the bunny.
* overhead in the family room, "Esther, these are my vehicles."
* overhead while G was on the phone: "My birthday is coming up! It's in March."
|Love me a vintage pram that puts my toddler to sleep!|
|G made this bracelet for Lance at a library class, and Lance proudly wore it to business meetings.|
|We looked at lots of bunnies at the bunny farm to find our Chloe.|
|Maureen the bunny farmer has 56 cages of bunnies!|
|And lots of baby bunnies!|
|Our mini Rex|