I find myself working to establish seasonal family traditions. The Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year’s trifecta is pretty well set, though I have tweaked it over Anya’s lifetime. I’d started out trying to implement a tradition I had with my parents (giving a small gift for each of the 11 days preceding Christmas*), but it’s evolved into a longer time range with smaller presents thanks to the advent calendar I made last year. And there are other activities, which do not involve gifts. We do Zoo Lights. Starry Nights. We visit Santa. We bake cookies. We eat Thanksgiving dinner with both families. We decorate the tree the day after Thanksgiving, and take it down around Little Christmas, January 6. I take a picture of Anya (new this year: Anya and Kai) in front of the tree in a Christmas outfit for our Christmas cards. Actually, I take about 50 pictures, and never quite get the one I want — though I always get one that captures her personality perfectly.
I have personal celebrations, too. A quiet reflection on the year that starts with 10Q in the fall and culminates in my revising my goal list and recapping my year on PopClogs. I try to start the year in the manner in which I intend to continue — full of energy and hope and good intentions. It usually falls apart by March, but I mean well.
I love these traditions. They pull me out of my head, out of my to-do list, out of my present worries and future plans. They make me focus on what’s in front of me: A loving partner, amazing kids, and an imperfect but pretty awesome life. I need that.
That’s just one season, though. Just a month, really. I need that sort of pause all year round. So I have been slowly testing other seasonal celebrations. For fall, I’ve made the following list:
- Go to a farmer’s market
- Bake mini apple pies
- Walk in the park and collect fall leaves
- Visit a corn maze
- Go to Zoo Boo
- Pick out pumpkins
- Carve/decorate pumpkins
- Bake mini pumpkin pies
- Make soup
- Do a leaf-based art project
- Make an autumn centerpiece for the kitchen table
I’ve been working on this for a month and a half now, and it’s really helped me savor the season. Which is nice, because it’s my favorite season — I would really hate to miss it.
Gets me to thinking, though. I should make lists like this for the other seasons. Things that I want to be sure to do and make and experience. Things I want to share with my family. The highlights reel. Because time often gets away from me, and you never know when your last chance to do something will be.
*A tradition I started as a child, I must confess, in order to get a few presents early. It was a lot of fun, though. And yes, I gave presents back.