One of my favorite childhood memories includes the massive feast my Sicilian grandmother (Nonna) prepared for Christmas each year.
Instantly, as we stepped through her door on Christmas, we would start devouring the most delicious, authentic Sicilian dishes she effortlessly whipped up every year.
My sisters, brother, and I often reminisce about the incredible food Nonna cooked and repeatedly try to figure out how she pulled it all off on her own.
One of her signature dishes was a baked pasta dish she prepared with round circular pasta, and a bolognese sauce that rumor has it, took her 3 days to prepare each year.
It never mattered how many family members joined the table because there was always an abundance of food and leftovers.
Whenever my siblings and I are together, it’s likely we’re talking about those fantastic Christmas meals.
Traditions are routines that weave themselves into our lives as we practice them over and over.
And they matter because they provide a source of unity, family closeness, comfort, family values, and memories to each of us.
But as much as I loved the authentic Italian food on Christmas Day, I also look back fondly on family dinners each night as an everyday family tradition.
Even as a kid I knew that sitting down to dinner each night with my future family would be something I pushed for.
The shared experience of these traditions builds long-lasting memories you can look back on year after year.
We all have family traditions we hold on to and look back on lovingly. And now, as we establish our own households, we have the unique opportunity to establish traditions within our families that will bring warmth to our children as they grow older.
Here are a few suggestions for simple living family traditions to get you started right now.
1. LIGHT CANDLES BEFORE BED
In the fall and winter, it gets dark while we’re getting our kids ready for bed. So we light candles as we begin their bedtime routine to signal that it’s time to get ready for bed.
The warm glow of the candles helps them calm down before bed and they love blowing out the flame and making a wish before we tuck them in.
We love to bake in our household for any reason. Baking makes the house smell delicious, feel comfy, and my kids love to help.
On rainy days we’ll bake muffins or a loaf of quick bread to enjoy after dinner.
Christmas each year is when we bake simple sugar cookies in the morning that our kids decorate however they choose.
And the best part for them is they’re allowed to eat as many sugar cookies as they wish on Christmas Day.
3. ICE CREAM FOR DINNER
We started ice cream for dinner as a tradition this past year.
I bought vanilla ice cream and a few toppings and brought them outside for dinner on the night of the summer solstice.
We filled our bowls with ice cream and toppings and enjoyed the longest day of the year.
4. RECURRING FAMILY MEAL
Each week I make chicken wings for dinner and my family goes crazy for them. I whip up a homemade blue cheese dipping sauce, put a bottle of hot sauce on the table, and everyone is happy.
Keep preparing the meals your family enjoys the most and those will be what they ask for when they’re visiting from college or come home with their own families.
5. PAJAMA DAYS
Some days – especially in the fall and winter you don’t want to get dressed.
So we call those days “pajama days”. We’ll stay in our comfy pajamas and relax for the day.
6. MAKE HOLIDAY ORNAMENTS
Look at all the meals you have chosen and assign them a day during the week that matches your schedule on that day.
My kids are small, so they love a solid craft project. We make ornaments for any holiday that comes around.
Garlands, hanging ornaments, framed art, and so on. If your home is already overflowing with crafts, give new projects to family and friends.
7. HOMEMADE BIRTHDAY CAKES
The adults and kids in my family get a homemade birthday cake each year of their choosing. We take a picture of the cake each year to look back on.