By Jaime Mathews

Why Every Family Needs Positive Traditions

Mamahood + Homeschool

The Sweet Life

October 4, 2021

Family traditions are an important way to form bonds and to create wonderful childhood memories for our kids. Every fall, I look forward to the holiday season.

Virtual show of hands: who loves fall? As soon as there is a tinge of color change on the Chinese pistache and maple trees in my area, I know that my very favorite time of year is approaching. Fall! The time of year that, for this northern California native, is associated with bundling up, using our gas fireplace during the cooler mornings, pumpkin everything (although sorry Starbucks, Pumpkin Spice Lattes are not my thing), and the start of all of my favorite holidays. And for many, the holidays are full of family traditions, and these traditions can have some of the most meaningful memories on kids… and parents!

Why Family Traditions Are So Important

Traditions are essential in a family because they create an instant bond among parents and siblings. Traditions are described as beliefs or customs that are passed down from generation to generation. They carry on the legacy of parents and grandparents, long after these loved ones are no longer with us. Traditions give us an unbreakable bond of memories that link our past, present, and future together. They allow us a glimpse back into our lives last year, five years ago, even thirty years ago. And no matter how painful it might be to take a trip down memory lane, traditions make room for families to remember and participate in good times together. 

What My Favorite Family Traditions Are

I had a lot of family traditions growing up. We went trick-or-treating in the small town near our ranch. We always went to the pumpkin patch to pick out our own pumpkins. We usually had a big Thanksgiving dinner. We cut down our own Christmas tree at the local Christmas tree farm, and we played the Alvin and the Chipmunks holiday cassette tape (yes, cassette!) while we decorated the tree. We went to Christmas Eve service late at night, made cookies for Santa, and for Easter we always had huge egg hunts (after church, of course). 

Some of my most memorable times as a kid were stamped on my heart because of family traditions. Now as a parent myself, we have incorporated most, if not all of these traditions with my own family. My parents, who started or continued these traditions from their own childhoods now get to enjoy seeing these traditions lived out in their grandchildren. Some of my very favorite traditions during the holidays are these:

1. A day at the pumpkin patch

There’s nothing quite like kicking off the fall season than with a trip to the pumpkin patch. Our local patch has lots of farm animals, a corn maze, a live sing-along barn show, and too many fun kid activities to remember. I love taking pictures of the kids next to the life-sized scarecrow measuring stick, so that I can visually see how much they’ve grown in the past year. My kids instantly remember all of the fun places they get to explore as soon as we turn down the long, dirt pathway of the pumpkin patch. 

2. Thanksgiving togetherness

Thanksgiving is one of my very favorite days. I love searching for new recipes to try, new ways to season and cook the turkey, and how to bake the perfect pumpkin pie (I still end up buying mine). I love setting the table so that it looks like a staged scene from a Restoration Hardware catalog, using the fancy dishes and glassware. Why else do we have the China sets (which I don’t), the beautiful wine glasses, and the lace-lined cloth napkins (which I do have!)? Thanksgiving, for me, is such a special day to sit together, break bread with one another, and to intentionally say what we are thankful for. This is a tradition that is not overlooked in my home. We all go around the table and say what we are thankful for (even my four-year-old). Sometimes we hear things like, “I’m thankful for my Spiderman backpack,” but you know what? That’s okay, because I know that even my youngest can grasp what it means to be happy about something.

3. The Christmas preview

I don’t know about you mamas, but I am the one who does the majority of the cooking on Thanksgiving day. I don’t mind it at all, but by the last bite of pumpkin pie, I am pretty wiped out. So now I have a little “me” tradition of going away for one day and night the day after Thanksgiving to a small town in the mountains, where I attend an annual Christmas fair and kickoff-to-Christmas event. I sip hot chocolate, do a little holiday shopping, and then really prepare my mind and my heart for the biggest holiday to come. It is a time to unwind before the craziness of the holiday season comes. Maybe your idea is to do Black Friday shopping, which I know is super popular, but for me, this is my favorite way to start the Christmas season.  

4. Christmas, Christmas, and more Christmas

Oh how I love Christmas! I love watching corny Hallmark Christmas movies (Lord knows I cannot pass up a jolly old Candace Cameron Bure holiday flick). I love the smell of a freshly cut Christmas tree in my family room. I love all of the ridiculous holiday decorations that my poor husband has to drag down from the attic the day after Thanksgiving. My kids squeal with joy as they see their own Christmas decorations unwrapped from the year before. And they now know exactly where each of my decorations are placed and they love to help dress up the house for the holidays. Each of my family members know that Christmas music is played pretty much all day from the day after Thanksgiving until the day after Christmas. And there is nothing that brings all of my family more joy (and more mess in the kitchen) than baking and decorating cookies for Santa Claus. And after the baking, we all clean up and head to the Christmas Eve candlelight service. Because we never want to lose sight of what Christmas is really about.  

5. Christmas cheer

I was taught early on that Christmas is not all about presents and it was not all about my brother and I. When I was young, my family would go to Mazatlan, Mexico with at least one or two luggage bags full of wrapped presents for the boys and girls who lived on the streets. My mom would have my brother and I pass them out and say “Feliz Navidad” (Merry Christmas in Spanish). We were often embarrassed by it and to be honest, we were reluctant to do it, but now as an adult, I can see why they did it and understand the bigger meaning. Now, my family carries on that tradition in our own community. Each year, we organize a homeless shelter dinner and gift bag donation. My kids are a part of collecting and organizing nearly 3,000 items, and putting them in over 100 bags before we take them to the shelter. Covid closures did not allow us to do this last year (the first time in nearly 15 years), but this year we will be back doing something for others during this holiday season. 

6. Easter Extravaganza

Easter is another huge favorite in my home. Although I don’t decorate the house like I do for Thanksgiving and Christmas, the holiday carries the same importance. Because we are a big family, we color a lot of Easter eggs. On Easter morning, my kids know that the Easter Bunny does not disappoint. We always have a huge Easter egg hunt (over 150 eggs), a fun scavenger hunt to find the Easter baskets, and then after we break for breakfast, church, and a little brunch, we are back at it for another Easter egg hunt at my parents’ house. One of my favorite pastimes is watching my kiddos hunt for Easter eggs. The joy, the pride, and the sense of accomplishment when they find an egg is something I will never tire of seeing. 

What If Your Family Didn’t Have Many Traditions

I was blessed to come from a family who celebrated lots of traditions. But if you didn’t come from one of those families, that’s okay. You can start the traditions now, this holiday season! If you like what you read about some of my favorite traditions, then use them. Start this year and make them your own. Give your loved ones shared experiences to remember and relive year after year. Weave together a way for your kiddos to remember their childhood with you and an avenue for them to keep those memories alive long after they’ve grown. Family traditions can be some of the most powerful ways to leave a legacy behind.


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Jaime Mathews      Author

Jaime is a woman of many hats: follower of Jesus, wife, mama of three, homeschooler, business owner, blogger, writer and aspiring homesteader. Follow her on instagram @jaimeleemathews.

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