Family Traditions



Published in the Fall issue of the PRG 2019
Creating memories that last!

By Annie Keeling
Parenting Specialist
Children love rituals. The security of repetition brings feelings of belonging and comfort. Holiday rituals often create a sense of awe that there is something bigger than oneself even as children are held within the nest of their family. What is it you want to model this holiday season? While the commercial idea of perfect gifts and Pottery Barn decorations tempts many, making family time a priority will have a greater impact on your child.

What does it take to make new memories while also remembering the past? Holidays offer a time to pass along stories of values and customs through the generations. Share with your children what the “Spirit of Giving” means to you. Reflect on how you have brought this into your life, individually and as a family.

Lasting memories are often made through the stimulation of the senses – whether it’s mulled cider in the kitchen, prickly pine needles on the tree, or downtown carolers. These impressions create powerful interactions within our nervous system and help to solidify the experience into our memories.

Here are some ideas you might consider adding to your family’s traditions:

Read Together
Reading together is one of my family’s favorites. We have a book called, Christmas Treasury, which is a collection of stories that we read every holiday season. I also like the book, Celebrations: Festivals, Carnivals, and Feast Days from Around the World, which can be used throughout the year.

Share Yourself with Others
When I was growing up, my mother visited several folks in a nearby senior center on a weekly basis. At holiday time, even when I was quite young, she would take me with her on her visits. That made a powerful impact on me. You can contact many of the assisted living centers in our area or Volunteer Nevada County:

Give the Gift of You
One of the best gifts you can give your child is the gift of your time. My father gave me a homemade booklet at Christmas one year. In it were 12 pages with a blank line on each page. Together we came up with 12 events that we could do over the year, once a month. This included the circus, library, Children’s Museum, the park, and my favorite restaurant. I still remember that gift and carry on the tradition with my son.

What do you do now for the holidays and what new traditions might you choose to include? Where do you find meaning in the holidays? Talk it over with other family members or just grab the reins all by yourself – and create memories to cherish.

Annie Keeling is the Parenting Specialist for Nevada County Superintendent of Schools. She teaches Triple P Parenting classes throughout the year. Contact Annie to find the next class near you: or 530.268.5086.


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