‘Twas the night before Thanksgiving …

All month, the kids and I have been studying and thinking about holiday traditions. We’ve read the Thanksgiving story from Core Knowledge, we’ve colored turkeys, and pilgrims, and Native Americans, and we’ve thought about the things that we are thankful for. In the meantime, I’m trying to forge my way through the process of creating holiday traditions. If you are a single mom, like I am, or have small/limited/far-away family, again like I do, you might understand what I mean. 🙂

Three years ago today, my mom passed away, after a 13-month battle with lung cancer. She was 50. Little Goose was eighteen months old. That’s her in the picture above … with a 2-month-old Little Goose, and 5-year-old Amazing K, my cousin’s fantastic daughter. The awesome guy in the picture is my dad, now known as The World’s Best Papa.

When my mom went Home, any semblance of holiday traditions we might have been holding on to went with her.  There is a large, extended family on my mom’s side, including Amazing K … but they all live far away, and we can’t celebrate the holidays together in the way we all would like to most of the time.

And I … am not so good at coming up with some of this stuff. I want Little Goose to grow up with traditions, and fun, and a sense of belonging and family. Tomorrow, we will celebrate with dear friends, and I love that. I love that sometimes the people we choose to have in our lives become another definition of family.  It’s a theme I strive for in my storytelling, as well.

But … I also want some traditions that are ours, in the tiny, little family that we have. And I need some help. 🙂 What are some of your favorite/unique things you do to celebrate Thanksgiving and the holiday season that we could do — one busy, distracted Mama, and one precious preschool girl?

About breeanaputtroff

Writer, teacher, chatter, mom, indie, fun-loving, eclectic!

Posted on November 23, 2011, in Family, Kids, Little Goose. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. What a great picture of your parents and the girls, Breeana! Little Goose is going to love having it when she gets older. It’s hard losing family any time of year, but especially around the holidays, but I’m glad to hear that you still want to create some cherished traditions for your daughter to look back on.

    What are some of my favorite traditions? For awhile we had “Prancer” parties…invite family and friends for sloppy joes, hot cocoa and to watch the movie, Prancer. Making cookies and fudges to put on pretty holiday plates and delivering to friends and family who don’t have the time to make those things. Driving around looking at Christmas lights with holiday music playing and covered cups of hot cocoa. Then coming home for a Christmas movie, more hot cocoa and cookies.

    And my favorite of all… After the gifts are unwrapped Christmas morning, all of the stocking stuffer gifts take their place under the tree. And they’re not touched until all of the ‘undecorating’ is finished on New Years Day. It keeps the tree from looking ‘naked’ because there are still a few gifts under there, and it gives the kids incentive to help get everything put away in a timely manner because they can’t unwrap them until that job is finished. 🙂

    It’s just another way to prolong the excitement, and they’re usually just dollar store, or otherwise inexpensive gifts, although I do add a couple of nicer things every year. But they’ve always loved it, even now when they’re older.

    So those are a few of mine.

    • Ooh… I love the one with the stockings… really might have to use that one. 🙂 Of course, Little Goose is only four … and stubborn. That could easily just turn into a rough week of having to tell her “no” every five minutes. 😦 Might have to wait a couple of years to implement that one. I have thought about (and sort of done) a “12 Days of Christmas” sort of thing, where we leave 12 (small!) presents, and she can open one each day, starting with Christmas Eve.. Once my brother and I were teenagers, our own family tradition changed from opening presents on Christmas morning to staying up late on Christmas Eve and opening EVERYTHING. My mom would make manicotti, and we would go to church and then come home, eat dinner, and spend the evening together opening presents. On Christmas day, we all got to sleep in! 🙂 Until we had both moved out though, we still saved the stockings for Christmas morning.

      For her birthday, on the gifts from me, I don’t buy her stuff and wrap it up and give it to her on her birthday. She’s lucky, her birthday is at the end of May, almost halfway around the year from Christmas, and just at the time she needs lots of new things for summer. So, for the entire month of May, we do special things together, just her and I, and whenever we go shopping, she’s allowed to pick something out as a “birthday present.” It spreads out the fun, and she gets to really enjoy one gift at a time, rather than a pile of new things at once where she forgets about half of them.

      I’d like to do something like that surrounding Christmas, too.

      One thing we did start doing last year, is going to a pottery-painting studio, and letting her paint her own ceramic ornaments for the tree, and for special gifts (with zero help from me … so that the painting is truly a reflection of who she was right then). I can’t wait until we pull out the ones she made last year, and see how much she’s grown and changed with the ones she does this year.

      • It sounds like you have some great traditions, year round, already. I love the pottery idea to show how her artwork changes from year to year. And yes, putting the stocking gifts under the the tree might be a little tough to pull off with a four year old, lol. I think my youngest was seven or eight when we started that. 🙂

  2. Michele Reed-Ball

    Such an honest, wonderful, (and a little wistful) post. Happy Thanksgiving your fabulous family… 🙂

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