What do these things have in common:
- Christmas Underwear
- Campsite 10
- Southern Illinois Wine Trip
- Hide the Cow
- The Girlfriend Trip
They’re all family traditions!
Many of them we’ve enjoyed for many years. More than twenty years, to be more specific. And while some have come and gone, others I hope will be a legacy to my children’s children.
What is a Tradition?
The Cambridge English Dictionary defines Tradition as:
A way of behaving or a belief that has been established for a long time, or the practice of following behavior and ideas that have been so established.
We can choose what we pass on
Notice there is nothing in the definition of who gets to start it or when or how one defines “a long time.” Also, note that it does not include a reference to feelings, so we can choose what we pass on to future generations. Will it be one of fortitude, confidence, love, and faith? Or will it be one of fear, resistance, stubbornness, and self-righteousness?
The traditions and legacies we leave to our children continue to other generations, leaving them with the choice to continue or do better. I hope my husband and I have created traditions and legacies they are proud to continue. In habit and in fun!
Why Start a Tradition?
Building and sustaining traditions have pros and cons, but the benefits can far outweigh the concerns.
Today’s online presence, including, but not exclusive to, social media, can make us feel scattered like we belong to so much, yet nothing at all. Building a tradition can help capture our heritage and help us feel like we belong to something unique and special.
Traditions can help build a sense of wonder and anticipation when nothing seems to surprise us anymore.
They build a sense of commitment and responsibility, and in a world where flexibility, busyness, and go-with-the-flow reigns, traditions give us a foundation and a solid place to land.
Traditions bring people together, so connections are formed or rekindled. They create memories and breed other traditions.
Traditions – The Beginning
When I found out I was pregnant with my second child, I was sure it was a boy. I already had a boy, I was a boy mom, and I knew what to do with a boy. I was a tomboy myself, so it fits. I knew God would keep the ole tradition going.
Three months later, I found out I was having a girl. “Lord, help me,” I prayed. I didn’t know how to raise a girl! Did social law require me to put a bow in her hair? How would I prepare to talk about bras and periods and boys? I was doomed.
But of course, God knows best, yet the minute I peered into that precious face, I knew she was all mine. I vowed never to let anything come between us. I promised to love and protect her. I would build the kind of relationship that garnered respect and more love than she could handle.
Some may call that helicopter parenting, but whatever.
My husband and I dedicated her to God and have prayed every day that we have the wisdom to be the parents God needs us to be for this sweet girl.
In the hospital room, I decided I would create a few traditions to keep her (and her brother!) close by.
One tradition we started, and that continues today, is the Girlfriend Trip.
Traditions – The Girlfriend Trip
I considered a Christmas Tradition of baking cookies, a summer trip to the water park, or a weekly outing at a donut shop, but I was looking for something to help build our relationship over the years. Something that would create lasting bonds through thick and thin and even, perhaps, continue long after I meet Jesus.
I wanted to spend time together being silly, seeking new adventures, getting stomach aches eating chocolate, and taking advantage of drive time to talk.
Thus, the Annual Girlfriend Trip was born.
At ten months old, over Columbus Day Weekend, I took my daughter to a hotel about an hour away and began a tradition that went on its 20th year in 2022.
I couldn’t afford that first trip, but I did it anyway. She doesn’t remember it. I do. Like it was yesterday. It was pretty close to our small Midwestern town, but it was far enough away to feel like a getaway.
We swam in the indoor hotel pool and took walks in the park. It wasn’t fancy, expensive, or elaborate, but the foundation and intention started one of my favorite times of the year.
Continuing the Traditions
Each year, we choose a place to go within a five-hour drive. We’ve visited Chicago, Indy, and St. Louis on several occasions. We’ve explored Galena, Chesterfield, Nashville, Springfield, and other beautiful towns.
We ride horses, shop, eat, walk hiking trails, shop, eat, get manicures, shop, eat, and get massages. Each year, we try something different, but sometimes, my favorite moments are the car rides.
Whether we drive for an hour or five, we get to laugh and make funny videos. She catches me up on what the kids are all about these days, and I yell at other drivers on the road (working on that). She confides in me about her love life, and I offer too much advice, and then it gets quiet. I tell her I love her and stroke her hair or arm.
I turn on the eighties and nineties music and am surprised to learn she knows more lyrics than I do.
No matter where we go or what we do, no matter what we remember or don’t remember, I know with 100% certainty that we are building our relationship and preparing ourselves for the future.
She is my ride-or-die, and now the only decision I have, other than our 2023 destination, is whether we continue this tradition once she has children or I step back so she can create her own.
Or maybe we do both.
The privilege of motherhood – and my privilege to be her mother – are a grace I will never take for granted.
I hope you have a tradition of your own to share. I’d love to hear about it!
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