By Shea Walsworth

Edited by Beth Zollars

2 Minute Read Time


In our high-tech, chaotic world, home is sanctuary — it’s where we order our world in ways that are both familiar and comforting. 

As a mom I’ve witnessed how family traditions have organized life into a rhythmic cadence that brings us closer together.

I love how family traditions root us in a sense of identity.  Over the years, our family has developed patterns of how we celebrate birthdays and holidays, mark special occasions and experience life together.

When it comes to these treasured times, I don’t try to change it up.  The repetition of doing it over and over again creates predictability and ritual. 

This is not about one more thing for your to-do list — it’s about love and connection.

I call my kitchen table the most important piece of furniture in my home because many of our traditions happen around it.

When my kids are home, dinnertime is the highlight of my day because it gathers us to share, laugh, and talk about things that matter.  A lot of our funniest family stories have been passed down around this table.

Since many traditions are linked to food, I have a notebook where I keep track of what I serve on Christmas Eve, Christmas morning, New Year’s Eve, Easter, and 4th of July.  I hope someday this record will be a keepsake. 

For me, whenever I eat fried chicken, I think of my sweet Grandmother and her incredibly delicious crispy Southern fried chicken. 

I can still see her soaking it in buttermilk, shaking it in a paper bag full of flour and seasonings, then hearing the crackle/pop when she dropped it in hot oil.

I can still picture her Christmas Eve smorgasbord, my mouth watering at the fried chicken, mac and cheese, green beans from her garden, mashed potatoes and gravy.  The result = food coma.  The memory = home.

One of the most simple things we did was to create a “special” plate at one of those paint-your-pottery studios.  On birthdays or if someone did something worth celebrating (even parents), they got to eat dinner on the “special” plate.  Then, we each took turns sharing what we thought was special about that person.  It was easy, effective and affirming. 

The very special family plate

Among our favorite summer celebrations is taking our dog to Sonic for his birthday “pup cup” because it usually means ice cream treats for us too.   We get so much joy watching him try to lick up every possible bit. 

The Birthday Treat

Yet, not all of our family traditions were originally met with enthusiasm.  The amusement of Mom’s first-day-of-school pictures shifted to cue-the-eyeroll as kids got older and more self-conscious. Now we can look through these images and see growth and change.

When our kids thought they were too old for Easter egg hunts, we adapted by including two golden eggs filled with cash.  Suddenly they were all in. 

When I suggested we adopt a family through our church’s Angel Tree program, our kids weren’t sure they wanted to deliver the gifts directly to the family in the inner city.  This was out of their comfort zone, but ended up being a cherished annual holiday tradition until our church discontinued the outreach.

All of these experiences add meaningful chapters to our life story. 

Though, as the calendar of my life shifts, some traditions fade.  In the fall, I missed how the the kids would help me design jack-o-lanterns and dive into the 1st batch of chili on Halloween. 

This month I missed the fun of decorating my kids’ bathroom mirrors with silly valentine puns, hanging heart garland around the house and stuffing goodies into handcrafted hearts like my mom did for me. So now I’ve adapted by sending my daughter Valentine’s-Day-in-a-box, full of decorations for her dorm room.

I’m grateful for all of the moments and memories from a foundation of family traditions. 

I can only hope that some of them may be among the things my children pass on to my future grandchildren.

What are some of your favorite family traditions? Please comment below and thank you for visiting Elizabeth by the Sea.