New Year’s Eve is tomorrow and I can smell the chocolate chip cookies that just came out of the oven. We have great friends coming over (we have a tradition of spending New Year’s Eve with them), and we have another tradition: enjoying chocolate chip cookies. We get together often – we cook, we laugh, we support each other, we counsel each other, we love each other – and we eat! My friend and I both love to cook so we both contribute to each meal and therefore there is never any stress about preparation.
We have fallen into a very fun and delicious tradition, without even realizing it: Every time we’re together, we have “special” chocolate chip cookies – they are large, gooey, offered in both crispy and chewy, available with chips or chipless, fresh out of the oven, and fun! We serve these with a bowl of beautiful whip cream and strawberries. Our children are always included in the celebration, and it was my little Anthony who recognized this as “tradition”. When he knows we’re seeing Ravi, he always reminds me that we need to have “chocolate chippers, strawberries and whip”. My heart is humming today as I bake cookies – I have to try them of course – and put the rest of the batter in the fridge so we can bake them fresh tomorrow.
It’s living with a 4 year-old that reminds me just how fun and exciting traditions are. Many nights we read and discuss Robert Fulghum’s “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten“. It’s both exciting and scary to me that what we teach our children now will help set the tone for the rest of their lives. “Share everything”, “put things back where you found them”, “clean up your own mess”, “flush”, and “wash your hands before you eat” are a few lessons I remind my son about daily. Fulghum’s advice can be found here and is definitely worth reading. I share these rules with Anthony, and he shares the pre-K rules with me: do one thing at a time, enjoy flowers, relish learning, look for coins in the street, stop and smell things (and if they smell bad, get a huge belly laugh out of it), and make sure to blame your little sister so she laughs too. Most of all, this holiday season he has reminded me that traditions are so much fun!
So…enjoy traditions! Make Friday night “family pizza night”. Indulge your kids’ sweet tooth and allow sugar cereals on Saturday mornings. Eat “chocolate chippers” with friends. Have a “hot chocolate date” every time you go for a bike ride. Because, why not? We choose how often we smile, and why not smile about, and look forward to, something as simple as chocolate chip cookies?
I have been taking for granted these beautiful traditions and I’m going to start appreciating, recognizing and celebrating them! Please share any traditions that make you smile…
Ellen Padnos lives in Manhattan Beach, CA with her husband, Ben, her children Anthony (4), and Annie (1), and her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Lola. You can also follow her on Twitter (@ellenpadnos).