A few days ago my 5-year-old daughter Lily asked me why we still had our “Happy Halloween” banner hung in the corner of our kitchen.
She’s right to ask, it’s strange that we still have it up from last October’s pre-Halloween get together. Every year we have people over with all of their kids, wearing their crazy costumes, and we have pizza and apple juice (and wine and beer for the grown-ups) and quick, chaotic photo sessions before we all trek outside to trick-or-treat.
I explained to Lily that since we have the party every year before trick-or-treating, I thought it would be funny to keep that one sign up for the whole year—this is one of many indoor Halloween decorations we have hung up all around our house for the whole month until the big day. She then asked me why we have the party every year, she wanted to know why we have all of these people over for Halloween. I told her it’s a tradition.
“What’s a tradition?” she asked.
“It’s something people do every year or every day or every week, the same way every time.”
She thought for a minute and then said, “Like when you bend down to me every day at school drop off and tell me you’ll see me at 12:30 and then we kiss?”
She got it.
All this talk about family traditions got me thinking about my own family traditions growing up with my parents and sister. We didn’t really have any. Not to say we didn’t host parties or go to functions on a holiday, but there wasn’t any one thing that happened every year, on the same day, that we “did.”
As Mother’s Day approaches, I always have conflicting emotions. Bittersweet. Wistful. We lost our mom, also named Lily, 14 years ago, and while Mother’s Day was never a huge deal as a kid, I’m always thinking about my mom the whole day. The day itself is always just about 10 days to two weeks after the anniversary of my Mom’s death.
And since I’ve become a mom to two beautiful kids, I think about her even more: What kind of memories did she want to create for us? Was she content with the childhood she gave to us? What kept her from creating traditions for us? Did she want to make family traditions in our house?
I know my mom tried her hardest, and did the best she could do. And I like to think that if she were still here, she would have been a big part of her kids’ family traditions.
Now that I’m a mom (and I call the shots), I want my kids to grow up in a warm, fuzzy house, complete with memories and laughter (and some yelling and back-talk, of course). I want them to remember me, their mom, as a woman who showed them fun times, encouraged them to be whomever they want to be, and yes, the crazy mom who kept the Happy Halloween sign up all year.
Traditions help all of us feel secure, they give us something to grasp, they’re the thing we do every time. Best of all, traditions are easy to begin and to keep up over time. So whether you have kids or not, make your own tradition—whether it’s a brunch with your family or a night out at a bar with your friends or a showing of a TV premiere at your house. You’ll create memories that will last forever…and your loved ones won’t ever forget.
I’d love to hear about YOUR traditions below. And…Happy Mother’s Day!
Erica Kaplan is Lily and Evan’s mom. She is also a wife, Real Housewife addict and….Allison’s sister!