The Importance of Family Rituals

My favorite memories from childhood almost always involve some beloved ritual or tradition. As a slightly anxious, non-thrill-seeking child, the types of experiences that stirred me were ones that, while perhaps sprinkled with a bit of magic and mystery, were firmly cloaked in comfort and security. Things that made me feel safe, things that I could count on.

I loved all our traditions- going to the same beach in Iowa every summer; (yes, there are beaches in Iowa. Lake Okoboji- look it up.) going shopping for the first-day-of-school outfit; spending the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day with my cousins; having a 4th of July Parade. These predictable events were exciting enough to thrill me, and as an adult, I’ve incorporated as many of my own childhood traditions and rituals as possible.

Our own version of my beloved 4th of July neighborhood parades.

Our own version of my beloved 4th of July neighborhood parades.

Some of these events are decidedly not “special occasions,” and in fact, one of my favorite family rituals happens nearly every night.

Book Club With My Daughters

My youngest child is two years old, and most parents agree that having a bedtime routine for toddlers is in everyone’s best interest. Our routine consists of going potty, putting on pajamas, reading several stories, and then rocking while singing lullabies. Sophie is at a delightful age for story reading- she has her favorite books and has begun to recite along with me, occasionally. She frequently asks to read the book a second time “by herself.”

My favorite book to read with her is Goodnight, My Angel by Billy Joel. There is a page of the book that is filled with butterflies, and the illustration shows a little girl with her arms outstretched, trying to catch them. Sophie always reaches her arms out wide, spreading her fingers, trying to catch them, too. It makes my heart hurt. In a good way.

photo-3My oldest daughter has reached an age where we have begun to recreate one of my favorite childhood experiences. One of my absolute favorite memories from childhood is listening to my mom read aloud from classic chapter books. My mom read us books such as Heidi, Black Beauty, From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever- I take this stuff seriously, folks, and I’m not going to read just any crappy kids’ book. This is not the time for the latest Disney Fairy adventure- “Book Club” is reserved for only the best books. We began our first one this fall- The Secret Garden, one of my all-time favorites.

When we reached the chapter where Mary discovered the garden for the first time, Izzy gasped in excitement and hid under the covers squealing. As parents we all hope our children react with enthusiasm to the things we expect will delight them, and so often they let us down with bored, anticlimactic shrugs. This was exactly what I’d hoped for- the book was just as exhilarating for my daughter as it had been for me. We would forever share the sense of magic the classic book contained, and this time- I got to experience it from the perspective of mother. (Speaking of books, did you know ours came out on Monday? You can buy a copy of The HerStories Project right here!)

Part II- Holiday Traditions as a Parent- Coming Next Week

As you might imagine, my holiday traditions as a child were epic. I have always been a memory-making, nostalgia-junkie memoirist, (really, it’s shocking that I’m not a scrapbooker. I’m sure I would be, were it not for my shocking ineptitude at crafts.) and capturing Christmas spirit has always been my favorite. I know many people dread the over-scheduled, materialistic, family-tension-filled holiday season, but for me, the chaos, stress, and potential for disaster is overshadowed by the unbridled mirth I experience from November through December 26th.

My parents did an amazing job making our holidays magical; it has been so rewarding to me to try to integrate some of those precious traditions into my own family, watching them unfold from an entirely different vantage point- as the mother to two little girls.

This post is a two-parter; stay tuned for next week’s sentence and the conclusion of my reflections on family rituals and traditions- holiday style! Here’s a little teaser photo:

We were cute as hell, no?

My brother and I at ages 3 and 1. We were cute as hell, no?

This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post.

This week’s sentence was: “One of my favorite childhood memories is…”
Next week’s sentence is: “This holiday season I will… OR My favorite Christmas tradition is…” 

(And if you missed our big announcement on Monday, you can get all the info you need to know about The HerStories Project book launch here!)

Your hosts:

Me
Janine at Janine’s Confessions of a Mommyaholic
Kristi at Finding Ninee
Kate at Can I Get Another Bottle of Whine?

Link up with us below, and share your favorite posts with #FTSF!

Finish the Sentence Friday

 

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