Holiday time always gets me thinking about tradition. Being the sentimental type, I love traditions and simple family rituals. It got me wondering how this all evolved and what is its significance?
We all kind of have a general knowledge of what tradition is but I always like to read the dictionary definition to see how a word is described and how it applies. Tradition is defined by Miriam-Webster as, "an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior: the handing down of information, beliefs, and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another without written instruction".
Probably, long ago, tradition was a survival tactic before written words even existed. Maybe groups of people passed on vital survival information by word of mouth; "Hey, that plant is poisonous, don't eat it!" or perhaps it was a tool to explain the way the world works (like why the sun rises and falls). Maybe it was simply a way of passing the time on a night around a campfire. Perhaps it was a little of all these things but being that it no longer serves a practical survival purpose, why do traditions remain so important and cherished to this day?
Comfort and safety. Most of us have daily routines we subscribe to, right? Little rituals we follow in our eating or bedtime regimes. When we go away, we break from our routine and get some excitement from the uncertainty of exploring the unknown and then return home back to the contentment of our rituals. Kids thrive and feel safe with the predictability of routine. There is a real comfort in knowing what to expect. Maybe traditions offer a certain stability in a sometimes unpredictable and unstable world.
Identity. Tradition offers a sense of belonging and your place in the world. Following cherished traditions passed down from your ancestors makes you feel a sense of connection to a group of people. When I follow family rituals, I almost feel like it brings that person's presence to life! My family went back to New Jersey to spend the holidays and one of my favorite traditions is to drive past my paternal grandmother's house. I park the car across the street, grab some stale bread, and walk to the park near her house where I feed the ducks; a trip we used to make regularly as children. The house remains perfectly preserved as it was in my childhood memories; even the cracks in the sidewalk are the same. It brings back my childhood and I feel a strong connection to my grandmother there. It was such a warm comforting place in my memories. It helps me remember where I came from and who I'd like to be.
Unity. There is something that really brings people together about a shared idea or custom. You know when you have a shared experience or private joke amongst a close group of friends and family that everyone tells over and over again? It can be explained to outsiders but not appreciated in the same way. Shared tradition that carries stories and meaning ties a group of people together in a unique fashion. Another way in which traditions unify people is the merging of different traditions to create new ones in your own family. I love observing other people's stories and rituals and bringing the parts I like to my own family to create new ones. When we went back east for the Thanksgiving holiday I was reminded of all of my in-laws endearing rituals. My father-in-law is a real life MacGyver . He has an engineering background and the house contains all kinds of evidence of his creative mind with little rigged surprises that he invented himself (One of our favorites is the light that turns on when the closet door opens.) and his fantastic basement workshop. My mother-in-law is a coziness expert! She is not only an amazing cook with plenty of family favorite recipes (Remind me to share the famous tunnel of fudge birthday cake recipe.....a family legend!) but the house is always beautifully decorated to reflect the season with meaningful family objects that all have a story. I love hearing the stories they tell of their own childhoods when we are all together. I can see things in my own children that carry on this legacy. Traditions really merge families in such a special way. I find myself wondering what my kids will absorb and bring to their own lineages. Maybe there will be a little piece of me floating around sometime in the future! Hopefully it will not be disco fries.....
One of my favorite traditions around this time is holiday cards. It is our tradition to take a family picture and send it to everyone on our list. I have saved and framed each one and bring them out at holiday time. I love reliving each and every year (watching a new kid suddenly pop into a picture or seeing a smile filled with lost teeth). I also love to think of all our friends and family (old and new) because it fills me with gratitude. I try to include a personal message, if possible, because I really do think of each and every one of them as I send off their letter. It is a great way to take stock and to start a fresh new year! Often I try to include class pictures of my kids. Their pictures are always taken in the fall (probably for this reason) and friends and family who live far away love to see their growth and progress. It is with this in mind that I created a fun little printable class picture frame! It can be sent in your holiday card, used as a gift tag, and hung as an ornament.
A short tutorial on how to put the frame together:
Start by gathering your supplies. I love double-sided tape but you can also use glue (if you are like me and hate to wait, the tape is fast....no drying, therefore, no waiting!). A nice sharp pair of scissors, a hole punch, and some coordinated ribbon (either coordinated to your child's outfit or to the frame itself would be nice). I like to use an exacto knife for the picture opening but you could just use your scissors there, as well.)
Cut out the images using a sharp pair of scissors.
Next cut the picture opening. If you have an exacto, these are great but if not just grab your scissors, poke a small hole with the tip in the center of the opening and then cut from there (If you do decide to use the exacto, be sure to put something underneath. I have a cutting mat but I I have used cardboard from the back of a sketchbook and it works just fine.).
Now you will want to match up the front and the back and do any trimming to get it looking the way you would like before affixing the picture.
Now you'll want to affix your picture behind the opening. These frames were designed for 2.5 x 3.5 inch sized class photos but I made some varying sizes on my Etsy shop here.
Now simply add your backing so it lines up with the front and press to seal.
Next, use the hole puncher to punch a hole where indicated and add some cute ribbon if you like. Twine would be cute, as well.
I made some space on the back to add some information about the photo. I always appreciate this later when the years start to fly and you can't remember right away!
Easy Peasy! You could whip up a handful of these while watching your favorite t.v. show! They have multiple uses (gift tags for a present, inserted as a special surprise in your holiday card or ornaments on your tree! The recipient can also use them to hang, as well. If you are really feeling wild and crazy, you could glue magnets on the back and put them on your fridge. If you want some adorable luggage tags you could laminate them and tie to your child's suitcase or backpack. Sky's the limit!
Well, I sure hope you enjoyed this post and that you will be partaking in your own warm, fuzzy traditions this holiday season!
Very Warmly and fuzzily,