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Birthday Rituals & Family Traditions


Darcy CrowderToday is my baby’s birthday.  I use the term “baby” loosely.  He married the love of his life last year.  So, now it’s her turn to make his birthday breakfast.  None the less, I found myself pulling out the Happy Birthday sign that we’ve used every year, for each of our birthdays since the kids were born, and hanging in its usual place of honor were the family gathers in the kitchen.  Gone are the days of bedtime stories, forts in the backyard, and pancakes shaped like animals….at least until the next generation.  <g>


Which had me thinking about traditions – and perhaps more specifically, how they evolve as our lives evolve.  Holiday traditions are a given.  When we first were married, Christmas always involved a large family gathering at my husband’s grandmother’s place – a beautiful brick home that her father had built and that reigned supreme for four generations.  Since her passing, the family has taken to celebrating Christmas Day at our house.  The location might have changed, but the spirit remains the same;  a big dinner, a roaring fire, Christmas carols on the stereo, pecan pie, stacks of presents under the tree, our favorite uncle playing Santa, decorations tucked into every nook and cranny.


Then there are those annual family gatherings on the Tennessee River; fishing, swimming, cruising, eating, fishing, playing in the water, eating, fishing… get the idea.  <g>


But it’s the “other” traditions I’m thinking of today, like the almost right-of-passage camping trips to the “trout streams” our men take, or the annual target practice Thanksgiving weekend (and you thought Black Friday was a big deal <g>)… and the Scrabble tournaments.  Don’t forget the Scrabble!  As our family grows and changes I wonder how many of these familiar, family-defining traditions will remain.


Will my future granddaughter wear the opera pearls on her wedding day that her mother, grandmother, and several great-grandmothers wore before her?  Will my future grandson love the wild outdoors with the same passion as his father, grandfather and great-grandfathers did?  I hope so.  But I also look forward to the unique and special traditions those future generations will bring.

Mary Preston - May 17, 2012 - 4:01 am

Family traditions are very important. I carry on the traditions that came before me. I hope my children continue on with them.

My children are grown, but if I did not celebrate birthdays & Christmas, for example, with time honoured traditions it would not be the same.

Marilyn Baron - May 17, 2012 - 7:13 am

I love family holiday traditions, Thanksgiving, birthdays, etc. But traditions change and we have to change with them. For example, every Passover we’ve celebrated with our friends who used to live in Atlanta. Now they’ve moved to Miami so the Passiver seder isn’t really the same. My friend and I call each other on the week and day of, share new recipes, talk about the past and how we wish we could recreate what we had. But our children are still here to celerate with us. We always celebrate Thanksgiving at my brother’s house, but since he passed away earlier this year, I don’t know where we’ll have it. Maybe we’ll have to start establishing a new location, tradition.But I love the way holiday traditions bind families together. Having that empty seat at the table will be difficult this year.

Linsey Lanier - May 17, 2012 - 8:12 am

Nothing like a post that gives you the warm fuzzies. My morning will be nicer now. Thanks, Darcy. :)

Ah Scrabble. Hubby and I used to play Scrabble when we first met. One night, he made me keep playing until five in the morning so he could win, LOL. Guess that’s a tradition in itself. At any rate, it’s a fond memory.

Happy birthday to your baby. :)

Sia Huff - May 17, 2012 - 9:07 am

Traditions are an important part of being a family. Our house is changing also. My heart waffles between excitement and sadness.
I talked to my oldest sister yesterday. She has 4 boys and their family is growing. By the end of July she’ll have 9 grandchildren (7 granddaughters). Hearing the pride and love in her voice was wonderful.
So maybe in the near future, you’ll be blessed with grandchildren to share your traditions.

Pam Asberry - May 17, 2012 - 10:11 am

I loved this post, Darcy. Our traditions have become less sacred as my children have gotten older. But I am hoping to resume at least a few of them with my grandchildren – many, many years from now! ;-)

Carol Burnside - May 17, 2012 - 10:43 am

Like Marilyn, changes in family and location have altered our traditions over the years until it feels like there’s few left. We have family in Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado, so it’s difficult to get everyone together at one time anymore.

Hubby and I are establishing little “retirement habits” like ending the warm weather days sitting by the pool, generally taking a breather from the day’s activities by watching the sunset together. Does that sound old fogey or what? :D

Tami Brothers - May 17, 2012 - 11:12 am

Awesome post, Darcy! I love hearing about traditions. I try to establish some, then I tend to find out they weren’t all that practical when I try to do them again the following year. Such as making a ginger bread house. We did it two years in a row, then graduated to gingerbread men. That lasted a few years, now we are at Gingerbread cake. Last year hubby and the Kid asked if they could have German Chocolate cake instead… sigh… Best laid plans. :)

Even non holiday ones tend to go by the wayside. We used to take day trips and make The Kid figure out where we were going by reading the road signs. He quickly caught onto that and can almost predict where we will go by the direction we pull out of the driveway. We graduated to making him read a map to help plot the points. Now he grabs the GPS and types it in. Like some of the others have said, it is good to be flexible and see them progress. Although my attempt at traditions have not really stuck, they have evolved into adventures that make those moments memorable.

Thanks for such a great, heart touching post. Happy Bday to your son. :)


Dianna Love - May 17, 2012 - 3:16 pm

Ah, what a sweet post, Darcy. I bet it is hard to see those traditions move to a new house, but nice to know you’ll have new ones to make with grandkids at some point. I was so young when my mother passed away that we lost a lot of that, but I do enjoy stories about traditions. Happy Birthday to your son (and it seems a mom should be wished birthday too since…you ‘birthed’ him – lol).

Darcy Crowder - May 17, 2012 - 4:06 pm

Hi Mary! I know what you mean – traditions make the holidays special in every way.

Marilyn, I’m so sorry about your brother. I do know how difficult it will be, how bittersweet. We miss those who cannot be with us, and hold those who can a little bit closer to our hearts. When we lost my MIL everyone scattered to the winds that first Christmas without her. No one could bear her absence. But we came back together.

Darcy Crowder - May 17, 2012 - 4:24 pm

Ah, thanks, Linsey! Scrabble and now Bananagrams are a family staple. :) If you haven’t tried Bananagrams you need to. I think it’s sold at Books-A-Million, in a bag shapped like a banana….very addicting!

Hi Sia – 9 grandchildren! Wow. We are looking forward to little ones, just not too soon. :)

Hi Pam – Same here, as the kids got older, especially with those teenager schedules, some of the traditions took a backseat. It will be fun to have little ones around again – someday. LOL.

Susan Carlisle - May 17, 2012 - 7:45 pm

Your post made me want to cry especailly with two new ones coming in December. I think what I’ve had to do is follow my children’s led on what traditions they want to keep. There was some talk of change when we got together on Christmas Day at my mother’s house. My kids put their foot down and said they wanted to do it the way it has always been done. That’s waht we did.

Darcy Crowder - May 17, 2012 - 9:58 pm

Oh, Carol, that does not sound old fogey at all! I would love to end each day sitting by the pool, watching the sunset, feeling content about the day’s activities.

Tami,your misadventures in tradition making sound like some of mine. :) One year I recieved the most adorable snowman tea pot for Christmas and promptly decided every year we would have hot chocolate out of that pot on Christmas Eve. I must have been throwing down the cosmic gauntlet because each year some unforseen event kept it from happening – even dropping the snowman head behind a wall one year! Don’t ask. :)

Darcy Crowder - May 17, 2012 - 10:06 pm

Hi Dianna! I like that idea – happy birthday to me too. :) LOL.

Hi Susan! Congratulations on the new additions to your family. I think it’s sweet that your kids want to keep their traditions. :)

Maxine - May 18, 2012 - 9:13 am

I’m a day late, but I thoroughly enjoyed your post. Sounds like you have a great family and some great tradidions. One day, I know you’ll enjoy hearing the “grandkids” tell you what they’ve started at their house. We have a few traditions, but with no kids, it’s fun to also see what we’ll do new. Have a great week!

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