Wednesday, December 28, 2011

" We always..."

"We always..." Two little words but when you put them together you get a family tradition. Family traditions are not written down. There is not a family book with a list of things we must do. There are no guidelines and there are no two families that have the same exact traditions. Family traditions are the things that we "do" as a family and they start with "we always..."

I was reading an article about traditions and the author stated that there are three types of family traditions:

*Celebration traditions...Celebrations of holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, first communions, graduations...families travel and come together for these events. They show that they care for one another, that they are bound together by these celebrations.

*Family traditions...these are the traditions that our individual families have created...Friday Night Pizza Night, Family Movie Night, special vacation spots, summer vacation activities with the kids, family meetings.

*Everyday family patterns...bedtime routines, family dinners, weekend activities...the everyday stuff...those rituals that are so familiar, rituals that give us comfort, rituals that give us closeness to our families.

"We always" travel to New York for Christmas. It is what we "do." It is a lot of work: wrapping all the presents, packing the car, getting all the laundry done, packing the suitcases and then there is the drive to New York. But this is where our family is. This is where my children's aunts and uncles and cousins are.  This is where we hang our stockings. This is where we open our Santa presents. Every year, Chris asks the kids if they would like to spend Christmas in their own house. They want no part of it. Going to Grandma in the Red House is our family tradition.

This year, after a long trip in the car last Friday, we went to a hockey game, a Christmas gift to my kids from their uncles. Saturday was Christmas Eve and Chris and I have "always" brought the kids into NYC. Most of the time I have a plan. We have seen The Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall, we have gone to The Museum of Natural History, we have gone to The Discovery Channel Museum, but this year I didn't have a plan in place. I asked the kids if they were tired from the late night from the hockey game and if they wanted to skip the city trip. Their response was, "We always go into the city on Christmas Eve!!!" And so that is what we did. No plan but we saw the tree, American Girl, The NBA Store, Dylan's Candy Bar, and Toys R Us.

Molly showing off her new hat.

Ryan at Dylan's Candy Bar.

Top of the Rock.

Shannon with a "Nerd"

The last few years we have gone to my brother-in-law and sister-in-law's house for Christmas Eve dinner. The Nealon family is a big family and so just having two Nealon families get together is a treat. The kids can really hang-out and get reacquainted with one another as well as the grown-ups.

Molly loved that her cousin Ryan had a silly hat like hers.

Shannon found a SpongeBob gingerbread house at Toys R Us and brought it to the cousins' house to make together.

Singing out loud for all to hear.

Girls just want to have fun.

Christmas Night my extended family gets together. When I was a kid, we got together once a month for birthdays and anniversaries. Now our family has gotten bigger, schedules are crazier and we only gather once a year...Christmas Night. Everyone visits with all their other relatives and in-laws during the day so that we can all be together for this one night. "We always" have done it. It is what we "do!"

We always take a family Christmas picture.

We always have yummy desserts.

We always get together with family.

The day after Christmas, "we always" get together with all The Nealons for the kids' gift exchange.

                                                        Thirteen Nealon Grandkids.

Two little words..."we always"...but they have such a powerful impact on my family. Every family tradition is like a pearl on a necklace...or a charm on my daughter's new Pandora bracelet. With every family tradition, another pearl is added. Eventually I hope that this pearl necklace will carry many, many pearls and that the thread that holds these pearls will bind my family together.

I know this Christmas, more pearls and memories have been threaded onto the necklace and I know we will keep on adding.  "We always" "do!" 


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  2. Kathleen that one made me tear up a bit!!!