The Appreciation Factor

All things Appreciation: Things to Appreciate and the Ways we look at, Show and Think about Appreciation.

Traditions – It’s What Makes Us All… Us

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Traditions…are extremely important to me.  I realize that as technologies change and our lives become faster and faster paced, that some traditions may go by the wayside, or seem outdated.  However, I believe that traditions are the things that make us who we are as children and adults.  They are deep seeded at our core and should be appreciated.

I thought that this was the perfect time to share my love and appreciation of traditions, as so many fall within the Thanksgiving through Christmas season.  There are actually 3 main times of the year where I try to adhere to certain rituals and traditions of the season.  These are Summer (my annual August vacation), Thanksgiving, and Christmas.


While dramatic changes have happened to how we celebrate the latter two due to the passing of beloved family members, I’ve felt that I’ve become a champion of keeping some of our traditions alive.  We may incorporate some new ones as our families grow, but many are treasured and not only keep the spirit of the holidays alive, but the memory of those we’ve lost alive as well.


Traditions Blog

From Top Left to Right – Row by Row. Row 1: 1. Köttbullar – Our Authentic Swedish Meatballs (Great Grandmother from Sweden’s recipe), 2. Green Cake – a Mrs. Hauck (2nd Mom) specialty, Row 2: 1. Bubble Lights, 2. Hanging Christmas Cards above a window (done in all of my family members’ homes), 3. The beloved Commodore holiday placecard holders (We get to pick our figurine) 4. My childhood stocking that I still use today, Row 3: 1. Thanksgiving wouldn’t be complete without my Aunt Helen’s Pumpkin Pie (Yes it’s about 3″ high!), 2. Illumination Night (A constant August favorite (see my 8/1/13 post for more info), and 3. The August Lobster Bake. (Making your own lobster just makes it all that more special!)


From the gallery above, it does seem as though many of my traditions revolve around food.  However, I think that’s true for many families.  You often hear about recipes that are passed down from generation to generation.  In mine, there are just over a handful that I’ve tried to master and share with the younger generations, to ensure that they are kept alive for years to come. Plus mealtime can be a coming together of family and a way to share your love of one another.

(Please feel free to ask for a recipe for any of the above. I’d love to spread the word about the talented cooks in my family.)


As it’s that time of year, I also thought I’d share just a few of my Christmas traditions.   This is the one holiday where our traditions have held the strongest.

  • On Christmas Eve, we often will open 1-3 presents. As the years have gone on, candidly I prefer to wait until Christmas. I think I want to feel like a child again and open as many presents as I can on Christmas day. Dinner is often Köttbullar, green beans with almonds and Green Cake for dessert.  The Swedish meatballs have been passed down from my Swedish Grandfather’s mother (my grandmother made them for us, and now my brother and I take turns make them.)  A newer one, but just as loved, is the Green Cake.  For several years, I celebrated Christmas Eve with our close family friends, the Hauck’s.  The dessert, Mrs. Hauck’s Green Cake – a pistachioed and almond flavored cake was a highlight.  It was especially dramatic the first time I had it, as I did not expect the inside to be green!


  • On Christmas day, we first open stockings one-by-one.  (ALL family members get one.  As time has progressed, we’ve set a $10 limit, but it’s definitely for young and old. I’ve found that even with the limit, these gifts are the most unique and often most treasured. Who knew you could love a Santa shaped air freshener so much!)   When it comes to presents, we each take a turn – the oldest to youngest – at opening our gifts.  While some who have participated aren’t a fan of this tradition, it allows each of us to see and admire the gifts received and reflect on those we’ve given.  Just before sitting down to dinner, we’ve chosen our placecard holder – though usually you’ll get the same one you had the following year, as many have developed favorites, and their place setting just wouldn’t seem the same without it.

This year at Christmas we followed the above traditions (pictures are from 2014), and at Thanksgiving we enjoyed Aunt Helen’s Pumpkin Pie.  It was especially bittersweet since she’d passed away less than a month before, but I felt she was smiling down and appreciating my efforts to keep that tradition alive.


Do you appreciate traditions and keep them alive?  Did you celebrate any holiday traditions this year or have any annual traditions to share??  Is there something that is a must-have holiday dinner or family celebration?

Share your comments today!



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