The Book of New Family Traditions

The Book of New Family Traditions Cover

I recently finished reading The Book of New Family Traditions by Meg Cox. While not all of the ideas are new ones, or ones that will work for every family, it’s a very nice collection of ideas ranging from small daily rituals like your end-of-day routine to larger annual holidays or once-in-a-lifetime rites of passage. I was reading it mostly for ideas for holidays and some ideas for celebrating the seasons. I came up some nice holiday activities. Here are some that I liked and might implement, especially as V gets older. A lot of them are easy and fun and as long as I remember to do them, they should add some fun to our holidays.

This list is for holidays. I’ll write about daily and other rituals in later posts.

  • Valentine’s Day: Have a dinner where all the food is red, like dying the mashed potatoes with a bit of food dye.
  • First Day of Spring:
    • Make Birds’ Nest Supply Basket for the birds to make their nests with strings and dried grasses. We also have a bird house that we need to put on a pole and set up outside.
    • Celebrate the coming growing season by planting seeds (although depending on your growing zone, there’s not much you can plant on the first day of spring, at least not outside). She recommends nasturium seeds because they are large, but they don’t transplant well. If planting inside, I think I’d go with cantaloupe seeds.
    • I’m planning to get this book as well for us to read next year: The Spring Equinox by Ellen Jackson. It’s a good time to talk about how the earth gets warmer and now the days will start being longer than the nights.
  • Arbor Day: Easy and obvious: Plant a tree.
  • May Day (May 1st): Make a May Pole (maybe table-top size) and flower garlands to wear.
  • Halloween/October. This one is unusual, but an interesting reflection on the year. Make Gloom Dolls, which are a variation on the tissue-marker-and-string ‘ghosts’ for Halloween. For the head, use a crumpled up piece of paper where you have written down your ‘glooms’ (anything that makes you sad) for the year. The book suggests burning it, so in conjuction with a fall bonfire, that would be a nice way to think about letting go of the ‘Glooms’.
  • Thanksgiving : In addition to the usual family feast, I think we’ll think about this as a time to make a contribution to a charitable organization and think about doing something for others.
  • Winter Solstice: There is a book for that one too, by the same author. A good time to talk about how this is the darkest day and from here on out, it will start being lighter every day. I always like to have the sunrise/sunset time tracker on my weather extention at this time of year.
  • St. Nick’s Day (Dec 6): This is like a pre-Christmas day. The books suggests putting a ‘giving’ twist on it by having children receive crafting supplies that they can use to make gifts for other family members.

This one is one of my favorites, and one that I’m pretty sure that I’ll be doing.

  • Literary Advent Calendar for Christmas. Wrap or box Christmas books, movies, or magazines (holiday crafting for example) and label them like an advent calendar, 1 through 24. Open one each day and read/watch/do it.

In general for holidays, the other thing I’d like to do is have a ‘holiday’ tree so that we can hang hearts at Valentine’s day, eggs in springtime, etc.

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