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How to create holiday traditions with your kids

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Mix new and old traditions

When your children think back on their formative years, what holiday traditions will they remember? Will they remember the serious, elegant meals at Grandma Thelma’s house? Or the silly, groan-inducing jokes at Grandpa Eugene’s house? Traditions from family member’s homes are all good and well, but what traditions will they remember from your house? Along with thankfulness, appreciation and pumpkin pie, Thanksgiving is about tradition, so make sure you are establishing some of your very own family traditions in your house.

Pumpkin pie

It may seem odd to talk about "creating" family traditions when the term tends to imply long-standing ritual, but you have to start somewhere. As much as you love Grandma Thelma and Grandpa Eugene, you need rituals of your own. In addition to talking about thankfulness and appreciation this Thanksgiving, consider your holiday rituals.

Merging family traditions

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When you and your partner joined up, you each brought to your home the traditions and experiences of your individual lives. You each may want to hold onto your own childhood traditions, but doing that may result in tradition overload for your kids -- and confusion if what both you and your sweetie "always" did as kids is somewhat opposed. If, for example, your family tradition was ten kinds of pumpkin pie and your partner's family tradition was to have ten kinds of non-pumpkin pie, you may need some compromise!

Consider the most loved traditions from each of your childhoods, and consider how to incorporate them into your children's holiday. You may not be able to execute a tradition exactly as your mother did, but hopefully you can keep the spirit. Perhaps you compromise on five pumpkin and five non-pumpkin pies at the Thanksgiving table. You may not be able to bring all of your childhood traditions into your home, but you can bring the best of the best.

Evolution of new

Most fun of all may be when you realize a new tradition unique to your family has developed. Ask your children their favorite part of last year's Thanksgiving, and see if you can repeat it. A new tradition is born! It could be food-related or it could be that walk in the woods the whole family took together, laughing and tossing leaves, between the big meal and dessert.

Or you may realize that a tradition has slowly developed over time. Whether by accident or design, something has happened over multiple Thanksgivings that you now expect or hope for. Those are some of the best kinds of family traditions, the ones that develop on their own, organically.

Whether your family traditions evolve out of traditions from either side of the family or develop on their own, traditions are a beloved part of Thanksgiving. In addition to the thankfulness and appreciation of our lives that the season and the holiday bring, traditions link us as a family.

Has your family created traditions? Share your family traditions -- and how you created them -- in the comments sections below.

Read more about Thanksgiving traditions:

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