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Digging through my recipe box, what I have in my hands is a box of family traditions. Some of the cards are so stained that I can hardly read them but because the instructions and ingredients are in my grandmother’s handwriting, the thought that someday I will have no choice but to discard them breaks my heart. Each creased and dog-eared rectangle is soaked in memories.

And with each passing day, I appreciate more and more the importance of family traditions. It gives me pause to think what part of our lives that my girls are storing away in their minds that will be remembered in their adult lives. Somehow I know that what might strike them as memorable and important may not be the things that I regard as profound. I can already tell that from talking to my niece who is slightly older than my oldest daughter. I will ask her if she remembers this or that day that is crystal clear in my mind’s eye only to find that she has no recollection of the events whatsoever.

What I am counting on is that as my baby girls get older and find themselves in difficult or upsetting circumstances that they will have comforting memories of a stable childhood to bring them comfort. What I’m doing to foster these memories is keeping variety to a minimum especially when it comes to the holidays. My basic Thanksgiving and Christmas menu will always include certain dishes with a few experimental dishes on the side because I believe that repetition is the key to family traditions.

My sister and I have a standing joke about how every year until we left home mom and dad decorated shoeboxes with aluminum foil to hold oranges, apples and nuts supposedly left by Santa. It worries me that my girls will remember this coming Christmas as the one when dad was so sick and mom was worn out and worried. This thought has put my wheels in motion to focus on building fun holiday family traditions that will overshadow their dad’s current health crisis.

Before the season get in full swing, I’m organizing my favorite family recipes and making a list of fun holiday traditions from my own childhood that I want my daughters to enjoy. I’m not going to put a lot of pressure on myself to decorate the house like I’m trying to win “Home of the Year” or buy tickets to every holiday production within a 100 mile radius but I am going to do my best to keep it fun and keep Christ in Christmas. And I am not going to repeat my mother’s mistake of forcing Christmas stuff on my girls. One funny memory I have is mom telling us to get ourselves dressed and get in the car before we completely ruined everything and that we were going to LOVE the Nutcracker whether we liked it or not!

Come back later to see my list of Fun Holiday Family Tradtions that I come up with and please feel free to leave some suggestions for me in case I come up short.