Christmas came and went. And, while our holiday season was wonderful, I found myself looking back on it with a slight twinge of regret. I’d not baked the goodies that I’d planned, or spent as much time on Random Acts of Kindness as I’d aspired to, and I especially hadn’t made all of the crafts with the boys that I’d hoped to make. That’s what probably left me feeling the most wistful – the lack of special memory-making traditions that I’d so planned with my little boys.
I even made a New Year’s Resolution to keep Christmas all year, in the hopes of rectifying a lack of some of these traditions.
Then, Valentine’s Day came and went too. I managed to get cards in the mail (unlike at Christmas), but I didn’t do any crafts with the boys, and I hastily grabbed chocolates and balloons at the grocery store for them the night before.
Next, St. Patrick’s Day also came and went. The boys were with my mom that week, so there were no mischievous little messes from a leprechaun, no green milk, and no rainbow crafts. I did let Harrison talk me into Lucky Charms that week at the grocery store, but it hardly felt like the “making memories” sentiment that I was going for.
Determined not to let the rest of the spring holidays get by me without starting new traditions and making new memories, I turned to my trusty Pinterest board. I’ve been curating this “Spring Holidays” board for years, but I hadn’t really done or made most of the things on the board. So, I thought I would print them and make a little book. I bought a binder, I turned to my favorite blogger for inspiration, and I was ready to print all of my best Spring Holiday ideas. I grew excited about flipping through the book with the boys, deciding what we would make and do. I was dreaming of them telling their children about all of our special holiday traditions.
But before I could take action, I got overwhelmed by the idea. And then the guilt monster reared it’s ugly head. Yep. I was feeling guilty again, and it wasn’t even Easter!
Serendipitously, I listened to this podcast interview with Chrystal Evans Hurst, and it resonated with me on so many levels. Oh how I needed to hear her message.
Chrystal says, “There were so many things my parents did right, and it doesn’t mean perfection. My parents were diligent about a few things consistently that we have strong memories of.”
For her family, one of those things was time around the dinner table. She talks about how this is a challenge for her now as a mom, saying “it’s really easy to put chicken nuggets and broccoli on the table and then go to cleaning up the dishes.” Yes! Exactly! I am especially guilty of this when Eric is out of town. But, she says there is a “high value in that,” meaning eating together at the table, and I know she is right.
Chrystal also says her parents were very strategic about having time together as a family and that they took a vacation together every year. She says it was usually to the same place – to see her grandparents in Baltimore. She talks about then taking her own children to see her grandparents, about taking the same trip, following the same route, staying in same hotel. “Those memories are solidified in my head,” she says.
This is where she really got me, “As parents, we’re always trying to construct exciting new opportunities, but we need to realize that what we do consistently is what is most etched in our children’s memories.”
My husband often talks about a childhood friend whose family had pizza and watched a movie together every single Friday night. Friends were welcome, and so my husband has memories of this time too. He even remembers that it was specifically ham pizza from Little Caesars, in the square pan. He’s mentioned several times that he wanted to start a weekly tradition like this at our house. I think he’s on to something!
And, Shauna Niequist writes about a similar weekly family ritual of blueberry crisp on Sunday evenings in her book, Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes.
For me, it’s time spent at the library with my mom. She’d let me check out as many books as I wanted, always helping me earn the coveted Book It stars and free personal pizza at Pizza Hut. That’s one thing I can say I do consistently with my boys – visit the library. And, my parents always made a really big deal out of Santa.
I’m not saying that I won’t turn to Pinterest for inspiration any more; let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. I’m simply saying that I’m no longer burdened by the guilt of the projects I haven’t done, and I’m no longer seeing Pinterest as the primary source of inspiration for the memories I want to make with my family. Instead, I’m rethinking what it is that I do (or want to do) consistently. What do I really want my children to remember most? Or, what will they remember just because we do it everyday, and how can I be sure I’m making those everyday things full of love so that they will be cemented into their little minds with joy?
What things do you do consistently? What things do you remember your own parents doing consistently that are now special memories?