Family traditions counter alienation and confusion. They help us define who we are; they provide something steady, reliable and safe in a confusing world.

One of my favorite things about making 1 family from 2 is discovering awesome traditions that we want to make sure we do with Finn.


A Hanke tradition is making Halloween costumes.  I love to hear about all the crazy costumes Josh’s mom has made for him and his sister growing up (including but not limited to: a piece of bread, garbage can, and a person sitting in a chair).  Josh let Finn choose what he wanted to be last year for Halloween (a cook) and Josh and his mom put together the costume.


Pretty cool, huh?


Here is a costume that Josh's sister made and let us borrow. As in she sewed this. The only thing I could sew is my fingers to fabric.


Josh’s sister has 4 kids and they do the coolest tradition for the birthdays.  They get them up like they would normally for school and before they’re about to step on the bus they find out it’s their special day to have mom & dad all to themselves.  They find a fun activity to do with the birthday kid up in the cities…just the 3 of them.  I’m totally stealing that when Finn is old enough.

Another Hanke tradition that I love is that they make special cake for the birthdays.  As in home-made cakes that the birthday kid gets to pick.  Well, Josh wanted to do a pirate ship and Finn wanted a Spiderman cake…so this was the compromise.


The pirate cake with Spiderman.

One of my favorite traditions growing up was that on my birthday my mom would tell me the story of the day I was born.  Even as an adult I make sure she tells me the story of the day I was born before the day is over.


So many traditions.

When we got married, I was worried about splitting Christmas between 2 families.  However, it’s worked out so great…I feel that we have the best of both worlds.

On Christmas Eve we go to church with the Hanke’s and Josh’s mom cooks delicious food.  We go over for good times, good food, and opening presents.  Having all the cousins together and to watch them so excited is one of my most favorite parts of Christmas.

Christmas Day we spend with my family.  As Finn gets older I want to incorporate more of the traditions I had when I was growing up…

We always were given an ornament on Christmas.

Our shoes were filled by Saint Nicholas on December 6th (who is NOT the same as Santa–Josh)

Christmas Eve we would be able to open 1 present-it was always something to wear to Christmas Eve service.  After service we would go and look at the Christmas lights and watch out for Santa flying around.

In both our families, Santa bought the big gift and left it unwrapped.  It was always the excitement of creeping (up or down) the stairs on Christmas morning…when I knew I should still be sleeping!

Those are the traditions we make sure to carry on each year for Finn.  I hope he has as many fond memories as I do of when I was growing up and someday maybe he’ll share some with his kids.  What traditions do you celebrate in your family?  Can I steal ’em??

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7 Responses to Family traditions counter alienation and confusion. They help us define who we are; they provide something steady, reliable and safe in a confusing world.

  1. Denise says:

    I always love reading your posts, but these ones about families and memories really speak to me these days… you know why, of course.
    As I get better from grieving, I know I am the one to carry on the traditions we had in our family (I’m speaking for my two brothers, too). In fact, I kind of was and am always the one who brings my brothers together. One of them is married and unfortunately doesn’t contact us (sister and brother) very often. In fact, I would say if I am not there where they both live, they don’t see or get to know about each other.
    When I am there, though, I make sure that the three of us meet, visit each other, celebrate some special occasions. Often. Every week. And calls. That’s maybe a good point, why I have to be there (deciding, deciding…), cause I think, like you, that family is important and they are all what was left from my family.
    I insist on never giving my eldest brother up, even though I know he celebrates Christmas and any other occasions with his wife and her family (uh… no problem with her at all, because I am always too “soft”, but she is very possessive…)
    With my other brother, we have excellent daily contact (it was always this way) and for him I prepared Christmas and New Year’s eve last year. This will be our tradition , till he gets married, if ever he wants it.
    In our family, Christmas was important, and my mother would cook turkey and potato salad (it was the best I have ever tasted, her potato salad – I’m vegetarian since I was 9) and some other stuff. When we were kids we opened our presents in the morning. I still remember when I got my bicycle…
    After we were teenagers, we didn’t have a Christmas tree anymore, cause my grandfather passed away on Christmas, and my mother then told us she only prepared a tree while we were children, it was fair. But that it hurt her very much celebrating it, while she knew that that was the day when she lost her father.
    I now understand her.
    One tradition she always brought to us was the “birthday special meal”. On our birthdays we were able to decide whatever we wanted to eat, our favorite meal, and she would cook that. I think this was so nice, and now I promised my brother to do the same for him. If I arrive before his birthday (I have two tickets options). But I think I should.
    So… again crying Kate, but I like to read your posts about family, they make me feel closer to mine.
    Thank you from the bottom of my heart, dear Kate!
    Denise recently posted..Faith black beaded corsage platform sandalsMy Profile

  2. Great traditions and love the costumes!
    Our traditions for Christmas tend to change depending on the year. We spent Christmas near our family last year, but usually we’ll stay home, the three of us. Not sure how this year will fly though… :-)
    You’re linked!
    Sprite’s Keeper recently posted..Getting some take out from the Sushi BarMy Profile

  3. kyooty says:

    I love makeing homemade cakes for birthdays. I do cheat sometimes and just pick a premade up, but when I make them, the kids are ultra happy.
    kyooty recently posted..Traveling Heart Shaped RockMy Profile

  4. Tracey says:

    My father is obsessed with traditions, but it’s because he had a shitty upbringing as a child and wanted to make sure that we never missed out like he did. Unfortunately he’s forgotten that the youngest person in our entire extended family is 28 and the need for many presents at Christmas has long passed. When Christmas time comes around I’ll write my usual rant about it and you’ll see what I mean.

    I do like the birthday idea for kids, though. And my mother is a very good cook who always made awesome birthday cakes.
    Tracey recently posted..Daily photoMy Profile

  5. Vince says:

    We began a new weekly tradition based on something I misheard. My wife and I attended a lecture on how to get kids more involved in our Church. The speaker was talking about the “old days” and how his family would make bread on Sundays. At first I thought he said “break bread”. Even though I got it pretty quick, the thought struck me. Being Catholic, breaking bread at the table is powerful symbolism. So now every Sunday we MAKE bread and then BREAK the bread together at dinner.

    Its a very cool tradition that the boys like, especially my younger one since he helps me make the bread.
    Vince recently posted..Take a chill pillMy Profile

  6. Peg says:

    What great costumes! I’m with you. If I made something by hand and someone said “Oh, did you make that?” It would not be a compliment…. it would be because they would know immediately that no one in their right mind would actually pay for something that looked so hideous!
    Peg recently posted..Ode to RagweedMy Profile

  7. maggie says:

    dude! i want that skunk costume in me size! (I also can’t sew worth crap. . . )
    My mum made our costumes as well. But they were never that cool. They would involve value village finds and creativity.

    On the birthday front. . . love the goldfish. nice touch. ;D We usually got to pick our supper for our birthday. I always wanted a turkey supper. Like the kind we only got at christmas. I fraking love turkey supper.

    As for Christmas? We always gave an ornament as well! And Santa always left big unwrapped present :) We’d open gifts xmas eve because we’d spend xmas eve with our dad, then do xmas morning with our mum.

    I haven’t gone home for xmas in forever, and my family was always concerned about me spending xmas alone… so in Guelph my uncle would always insist on me coming over. I was always working/on call and they’d adjust their traditions to fit my work schedule, and I would feel guilty…. but loved them for it. (one year i was on call xmas eve, got called in 11pm, didn’t get done until 6am, and they did present opening at 7am so I could be a part of it instead of their usual xmas breakfast first, presents after.. and then they let me sleep all day and had a late supper so I wouldn’t miss it!!!)

    and my first christmas in newfoundland was the first time i ever really got homesick. My dad skyped me on christmas eve, and I just missed going to his place xmas eve SO MUCH, even though I hadn’t done that in about 5 or 6 years, I actually cried and called my boyfriend (who was in BC, so like 4.5 hour time difference and I think I caught him at a family meal…).

    My second xmas in newfoundland I was on call xmas eve instead of xmas day, and did go back to ontario but wasn’t leaving until boxing day. So xmas eve I spent at my friend’s mum’s house, and when I woke up in the morning? SANTA LEFT ME A STOCKING! (her mum is a huge xmas nut). I was so touched to be included in family traditions like that I again wanted to cry. I maybe am more emotional than normal at Christmas.

    …anyway. i heart traditions. i’m still sussing them out for my life here in newfoundland. i don’t have a lot of ‘townie’ friends, so there’s not a lot of people around on actual xmas (and i’m at the bottom of the totem pole at work, so i’m bound to be on call xmas eve or xmas day… so i can never go to ontario for xmas.)

    Oh, and i started my own birthday tradition a few years back. I buy myself a DQ ice cream cake. After years of requesting one and never getting one, I started making it happen for myself. If I’m working on my birthday, I bring it to work to share. As long as I get one big slice of DQ ice cream cake, I call my birthday a success.

    (next year I turn 30. My mission? to get a hug from mickey mouse on my birthday. i’m not even making that up. my best friend, a good friend of his, and myself have already started planning our florida adventure – her birthday is 2 days after mine, so it’ll be epic.)
    maggie recently posted..If I had three dollars for every time someone asked. . . Do Your Ears Hang Low?My Profile

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