Other than the fact that it rhymes, I have no reason for placing the word ‘eggnog’ in the title of this post.
True, this post is about holiday traditions, but eggnog was never part of my family childhood traditions.
In fact, the only time I drank eggnog as a child was when I had the measles. My mother had been told by someone she trusted that eggnog had medicinal benefits for the sick, especially children with measles. (She also hung blankets over the windows to darken the bedroom, something to do with measles and too much light leading to possible blindness.)
I hated it. It tasted the way all medicine tasted, I thought. Awful.
It would be many years before I would taste it again. I discovered then that the commercial variety had little in common with what my mother had given me to drink all those years ago.
If there was a drink that symbolized Christmas for us, it was an ice cream float. Every year after the tree had been set up and decorated, mom made us ice cream floats. Orange was the favourite flavour.
Oranges were a Christmas tradition, as well. Christmas oranges, we called them. In those days, they still came in wooden boxes. Mom bought one box before Christmas and the contents were divided evenly among the six children in the family. Each of us would get one orange a day in our school lunches. Their appearance in our lunch kits meant that the countdown to Christmas had begun. There were never any left for Christmas itself, and woe betide anyone who sought out their hiding place and snuck one from the carefully counted stash.
Going to Grandma’s on Christmas Day, therefore, was always a treat because she had a big bowl of Christmas oranges that would be refilled almost as soon as it was emptied. No rationing.
Our own children don’t think of mandarin oranges as a treat – maybe because they start showing up in stores at Hallowe’en, maybe because they don’t taste nearly as good as my husband and I remember. Neither are they ice cream float fans. We do usually have eggnog on hand for Christmas; our daughter enjoys it, our son shuns it.
Over the years we developed our own family traditions, those traditions changing as the children grew to adults. For many years, Christmas Eve bedtime meant reading a special Garfield version of The Night Before Christmas. And Christmas morning always meant a trip out to the barnyard to give the cattle extra feed on this special day.
“It began in a barn, after all,” my husband would say.
Family holiday traditions are shared by many, yet unique to each family, and experts agree that such traditions play an important role in early child development.
Barbara Biziou, US ritual expert and author of The Joy of Family Rituals says that these traditions are important foundations of a child’s life.
“Research shows that kids remember early rituals that provide comfort and connection more than fancy presents or events,” Biziou sauys.
“Rituals like Christmas act as anchors for kids and give them a sense of belonging and safety.”
So why are traditions so important for families?
Our traditions tell stories about us as a family. Those stories play an important role in shaping a child’s personal identity. Psychologist Marshal Duke writes that children who have an intimate knowledge of their families are typically more well-adjusted and self-confident than children who don’t.
Research tells us that families that engage in frequent traditions report stronger connections with one another.
Because of their consistency, traditions offer comfort and stability in a world that often seems chaotic and ever-changing.
Traditions impart and reinforce values. Bedtime stories teach the value of education, reading and life-long learned, for example, and those Christmas oranges from long ago were a lesson in frugality.
Traditions add to the rhythm and seasonality of life. We make snowmen together in the winter; we plant gardens together in the spring; we go camping in the summer; we carve pumpkins in the fall.
Traditions pass on cultural, religious and spiritual heritage. This in turn contributes to your child’s sense of personal identity.
Traditions connect generations and that inter-generational connection correlates in research to fewer emotional behavioural problems.
And finally, traditions create lasting memories. Like Grandma’s Christmas oranges, for example, or our own Christmas morning barnyard chores,
All of these make sense to me and I wish I could say I thought of them myself, but I actually borrowed them from another blog called “Creating a Positive Family Culture: The Importance of Establishing Family Traditions”. I invite you to read the entire post at http://www.artofmanliness.com/2013/10/09/creating-a-positive-family-culture-the-importance-of-establishing-family-traditions/
The article goes on to talk about how to establish your own family traditions: ideas such as using traditions from your own past, finding a purpose and making it personal. Sometimes you need to let go of a tradition and that is not a bad thing. Eventually my children grew out of Garfield.
New traditions for new times.