When we think about traditions, we think about the big ones, like holidays and family reunions. Listening to “8 Years Lost,” Paperclipping.com’s Round Table interview with Jackie Wood, I was struck by her yearning to remember the everyday routines and the little traditions. (I highly recommend listening to the show. It’s very insightful. )
Whether you’re writing, scrapbooking, or augmenting family tree information, these little traditions tell great stories and go a long way towards defining family rhythms and dynamics.
It should go without saying, but as I’m not great at keeping my mouth shut, I’ll say it: Include pictures when possible. Take pictures when possible too—candids, cell phone shots, and selfies help transform moments into memories.
Write about little food traditions
Stacey Troilio shared her Easter food traditions with us in Recipe for Posterity. What are your little traditions? Do you get up and make cinnamon rolls from scratch every Saturday? Or do you crack open a can from the grocery store on special weekends? Make a Tim Horton or Dunkin Donut run? What’s your family’s favorite take-out? Sunday meals? Snacks at the movie theatre?
Food that’s normal for your family, but not for everyone else
What do you eat that might not be normal for every family? I have a friend who grew up dumping salted peanuts into a bottle of coke and drinking the coke through the peanuts. My family loves country ham and red-eye gravy, which is only unusual because we don’t live in the south. Our last minute go-to dinner is eggs and bacon but we seldom eat that for breakfast. What little traditions does your family have that are just a tiny bit different? Do you eat what you fish or hunt? Do you prepare foods differently?
Funny sayings & the stories behind the funny sayings
In our family, most of these originate from kids and they are wonderful little traditions that many people forget to preserve. For instance, while playing with cars in a sandbox when he was about three, my youngest got annoyed with his cousins micro managing him. He started calling them “Stupid car!” To this day, when someone is helping too much, his cousins tease “Stupid Car!”
Similarly, we remember my niece, who at two couldn’t pronounce her R’s and didn’t like bath time with her sister, yelling “You not doowty!” at her sister. Twenty-some years later, whoever wants to get in the shower first tells the other one, “You’re not doowty!”
Currently, my husband and I start each Saturday morning watching “Rifleman” re-runs. We also often make bagel runs after church on Sundays. When the kids we’re little, my husband would make up stories, starring Billy Bob the opossum and his cousin from Georgia, Billy-Joe-Bob. What do you do in your family? Read the newspaper a loud, work crosswords, have game nights? Do you have a few “never-miss” shows or movies that you watch over and over? Sports night? Quilting groups?
In his Huffington Post article, Dear Kids: Here’s Why You and I Are History, Bob Brody recommends keeping weekly journals of family life to give later as gifts. You can also keep a notebook in the family room or kitchen for writing down the little things. (Keep a camera with it!) Memories preserved are treasures you can share.