Our latest topic couldn’t have come at a better time! Since we are all gearing up for the holiday season, it’s the perfect time to talk about traditions, how we build them, why we build them and what that looks like for our family specifically. If you’ve followed along here for a couple of years now, you’ve seen me talk at length about the idea of building a family narrative. I came across this article in the New York Times after Parker was born, and immediately felt a connection to the concept behind shaping our family.
Without getting into over sharing details, Eric and I come from very different family structures. Neither is perfect or completely imperfect, they are just different and we had to work through some stuff to get on the same page with how we wanted to lay the foundation for our family. We could easily agree on one thing: family is and will always be the most important thing. But as any person in a relationship knows, it’s not always easy to just step into your partner's family traditions with ease. You haven’t grown up in them and they haven’t grown up in yours. It was helpful to focus on the strengths in each of our family traditions and use those as our beginning steps. It helped to start by discussing the traditions or specific things from each of our childhoods that really resonated with us that we wanted to provide for our children. It was important that we incorporate some of our historical families traditions, but also have space to start and create our own.
The biggest part that has stuck out to me about the creation of the family narrative, is that it really centers around how much a child feels connected to their family history. The sharing of smaller events like one-off stories, moments, inside jokes, silly mishaps and the bigger things like holiday meals, wedding stories and vacations all snowball into the continued creation of this narrative. One of the points outlined in the NY Times article is the concept of the "Do You Know?" scale that asks kids 20 questions about their family. Everything from Do you know where your grandparents grew up? Do you know where your mom and dad went to high school? Do you know where your parents met? Do you know an illness or something really terrible that happened to your family? Do you know the story of your birth? The more they knew, the more they felt connected and stable within their family. I guess it makes sense, but not always at the forefront of our minds.
Since we don’t live close to our immediate family, we get to them as much as we can for bigger holidays and they try to get up to the city for birthdays and other small events so we can share in those moments together. We noticed organically we started our own family tradition with our yearly apple picking trip upstate. I wrote a longer post about it last year that you can see here, but it’s what we look forward too every fall.
This year, we started to see our part of the narrative take shape for Parker. Long story short, we rent a car (and sometimes a house for the weekend), some years grandparents join, we go apple picking and then always swing through the little town of Cold Spring where we got engaged and then married along the Hudson River. We visit the stone church on the hill where we said ‘I Do’ and sit inside and stare out the stain glass windows. It’s really an incredibly beautiful church. Since we got married in October, it’s like a trip down memory lane of that day. We go down by the waterfront and take a family photo on the bench where Eric proposed and watch the boats go by. We stop into our favorite shops and take our time strolling down Main Street. We drive back to the city on the same highway we’ve driven on probably a hundred times now, because it has the best views of the Hudson Valley. After returning this year, Parker started asking me about when ‘daddy and mommy gots mwarried in the cwurch’. She’s remembering when we went last year and her apple picking gloves! She’s reciting very small bits of why we take that trip every year. What started nearly eight years ago as a trip with our friends to rent 15 passenger vans, pick apples, sneak some whiskey into our apple cider and have some time away from the city has morphed into one of the larger parts of the narrative we are building for our little family. I guess it shows that you shouldn't discount the little things you are doing as they may grow into bigger stories in your life and eventually be an anchor in your narrative!
Be sure to check out and follow along with the other amazing mamas who are sharing their stories as part of this series. Also be sure to check out our previous topics: Travel, Feeding, Sleep, Relationships, Self Care, Working, Co-Parenting, Comparison Trap, Diaper Bag Essentials and Play. Links below! #realmomseries
Caitlin: Sacramento Street