Family Traditions and Celebrations | Kay Trotter

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Family Traditions and Celebrations

We live in an age in which it is hard to spend time together as a family, not to mention some of us are divorced and single parents, some of us are remarried; and some of us remarried more than once, creating a rather confusing assemblage of members who aren’t entirely sure where on the family tree they belong.

Whatever our circumstance, many of us honestly don’t know how to celebrate together. To create family traditions and celebrations, traditions that lift days away from other days, give us something to look forward to and make a formal statement that “life is full of things to be grateful for” while also adding a sense of order and stability to our families and our lives.

What is a family tradition anyway?

The candy dish that is sitting on my kitchen counter today.

A tradition is something that you do once and it feels right; and so you do it again. It’s a ritual that “lives in your heart.” And it need not be big, or heavy or religious or difficult, it just needs to be YOU.  For example, a simple little tradition that I started as my daughter was growing up was, I placed a small candy dish on the corner of my kitchen counter filled with seasonal goodies year round. At the time I did not realize I was creating a family tradition “it just felt right.” Then one day my grown daughter came over and demanded that I put the candy dish back where it belonged. I had no idea that, to my daughter, this was a family tradition and she let me know that it needs to always continue. Today, since its Christmastime, I have a special holiday dish sitting on my counter filled with tasty white chocolate peppermints… yummy.

Sudekum Family Favorites Cookbook

An old-time Christmas family tradition that I continue is the baking of the Christmas Raisin Bread, using a recipe that has been in my family since at least 1800s—maybe even longer. It’s always baked at Christmas and given as gifts to family, friends and neighbors. My family traditionally serves this bread as toast on Christmas morning and then uses it for leftover turkey sandwiches. In fact, over the years, the turkey sandwich has evolved to include the use of Durkee’s Famous Sauce, lettuce, and, yes, cranberry sauce.

Since it is the holiday season, I am going to give you some ideas but remember: Every day is special and are a good place for everyday rituals, no-reason celebrations, and just plain fun.

Hay for Jesus’ bed (a Sudekum Family Tradition) During the Holiday season, my mom would take baby Jesus’ cradle from our nativity scene and put it in the center of the kitchen table. As each of us children did a random act of kindness, we could take one piece of straw (from new broom bristles) and put it into the cradle, making sure that by Christmas day the baby Jesus had a soft bed.

Break-through Christmas Morning (from Café Traditions) When I was a kid, my parents “wrapped” the doorway to the living room so we would have to break through the wrapping paper to get into the room and see the tree (It’s kind of like a high school homecoming game when the football players break through the big paper ring).

Homemade Christmas Gifts (a Sudekum Family Tradition) As children, we were encouraged to not buy gifts but to make them, thus giving each recipient a small piece of each of us. As I grew up, so did my gift-making competence. And all my gifts, from the simple baked goods to the elaborate 3-piece suit I once made, came from my heart and were nothing less than acts of love. My gift-making ranged from baked goods, homemade candles, monogrammed hand towels, macramé plant holders, rag dolls, sock puppets, etc. And, yes, even my brother cooked, sewed and embroidered gifts.

Proof That Santa Was Here (from Café Traditions) Every couple of years since my kids were very young, I leave a small piece of ripped red velvet fabric near the fireplace on Christmas morning. It proves Santa was there and he ripped his suit on his way down the chimney.

The Annual Christmas Lights Tour (from Café Traditions) Christmas lights. Ever since my daughter was very young, we’ve planned a Christmas Lights tour for one night in December. Everyone gets their pajamas on and then we head out to see the Christmas lights in our town. I pop a couple of bags of popcorn and pack a few snacks and we drive around until everyone gets sleepy. Then we come home, brush our teeth and head up to bed. It’s so much fun, and the pajamas and late night snacks make it an extra special treat for everyone.

My advice is to forget about any stereotype you may have and forge ahead with enthusiasm and get started creating some Family Traditions and Celebrations, while also giving your family stability and a sense of belonging. Above all, remember that the object here is to have fun as well as create something special and meaningful for the people you love.

Start your own Christmas Family Traditions and Celebrations

I would love to hear some of your Family Traditions and Celebrations, so please post them.

Merry Christmas Everyone

If you would like Dr. Kay Trotter to come talk to your group you can contact her at: Kay@KayTrotter.com214-499-0396, or visit her web site

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  1. Pingback: Christmas Raisin Bread « DrKayTrotter's Blog

  2. Christina Rice

    Like your candy dish unknowingly being a tradition to your daughter, so is the Gingerbread House Advent Calendar I put out each year. Thise year, as my son and I began to talk about decorating for Christmas, the first thing he asked about was the Advent House. As we went to the garage to locate the Christmas decorations, the first thing I located was the Advent. When I did, I passed it to him and asked that he find a special spot for it in the house. I could tell he was so proud to get to choose where the house would be placed.

    Another tradition we have is to buy a Christmas oranament during our vacations. If the place or year isn’t already printed on the ornament, I write it so we will remember our trip. This year, as we started to decorate the tree, it was espcially fun having Christmas music playing in the background, pulling out the ornaments and reminiscing about the fun times. We also have ornaments representing special times in our lives (i.e., when my son was born) and homemade ornaments made by my son.

    We love our Christmas tree. It’s not a tree decorated for a magazine cover, but a tree that represents our times together. Each ornament has a special meaning for us and we look at it with happy hearts. 🙂

  3. drkaytrotter

    Christina, I can tell your traditions are filled with love and joy which is the greats of all celebrations and the pure essence of life it’s self. You also reminded me we too have special family vacation ornaments and each time i place them on the tree I am filled with the joy of reminiscing about each trip and that bonding time in fun exotic places. Now trying to find Christmas tree ornaments in the middle of summer can be a feat itself, but we always seem to manage. Thanks for sharing your family with us, and I hope you have a Wonderful Holiday season – Dr. Kay

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