Sustaining Family Memories

Sustaining Family Memories in a Busy World

It seems that every year just gets full of things that we “have” to do, rather than leaving room for the things we want to do.   Spending time with our partners, children, and loved ones will help us sustain important memories of our family.

However, it’s more important now than ever to intentionally preserve family memories through storytelling and memory-sharing. This is how important family histories, events, and traditions continue generation after generation.

Honoring Your Family’s Traditions

Traditions don’t have to be extravagant, expensive, or Pinterest-worthy.  The more we try and make an event into what we think it should be, the more pressure we feel.  Then the event loses its magic. Anything that your family does as a ritual and enjoys taking part in together is a tradition.

Your sustainable family memories might be as simple as baking cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning.  It may be going for walks in the chilly winter evenings to look at holiday lights.  Some may remember bringing dinner to a family in need at your church once a month.

Think about the things that you remember from your childhood. Chances are, they’re probably not about going to a different European country each summer or spending week-long vacations at fancy cottages on the beach. Most of us treasure small yet beloved memories such as playing board games around a weathered wooden table.  We may have experienced making a family-secret recipe each holiday at a grandparent’s house.  Did your family sing classic songs in the car during long drives?

The Importance of Sustaining Your Family Memories

Why are family memories and traditions so important? They connect us to our loved ones in a way that can’t ever be taken from us. Even family heirlooms and pictures can fade, get lost, or be destroyed.  The traditions we pass down to our children and grandchildren will continue as long as they keep them going.

Some research shows that when a person holds strong family traditions, they are better adjusted to life’s trials and hardships. Essentially, when a person has rituals and foundations to lean on, they are resilient when life gets tough.

Sharing our family memories brings up something deep within our souls that nothing else does. Think about how beautiful it feels to sit in a room surrounded by people of many generations.  A grandparent will talk about the things they remember from when your parents and you were young. These experiences shape our identity and remind us of our roots. When children hear about these stories and traditions, it helps them to develop their values and identity with pride.

When we pass down stories and traditions, it helps us to see what we have in common with our family members.  It also helps us see the ways we are individuals. As long as we’re confident in who we are and what we know, it’s easier for us to go out and develop our unique senses of self. It also strengthens the bonds we have with our family.  These bonds reinforce the fact that we can lean on them and use them as a source of support.  You will draw on that positivity and healing when it’s needed.

The Magic of Sustaining Family Kitchen Memories

Anyone who has spent time with family members in the kitchen or who knows the joy of eating something made in a traditional family way knows that a family recipe is more than just the sum of the ingredients. When a dish is made with love, care, and history, the ingredients meld together.  That special dish simply can’t be recreated by someone outside your family.

Sharing family recipes and kitchen traditions binds us together, just as when you combine ingredients into a dish it’s often impossible to separate them again. The food reflects the history of all the people it has sustained over generations past. If your family has particular recipes or ways of working in the kitchen, make it a priority to share stories about that food.  Even write those recipes down for your children.  That’s the best way to sustain kitchen family memories.

If this sounds like something that sparks your interest but you want some guidance or community, join Stoney Creek Farm for a one-of-a-kind event on February 4th.  Vicki H. Moss will lead us in Writing the Story Behind Your Cherished Family Recipes.   This workshop is where you’ll learn how to put into words all the feelings and love surrounding your family’s food traditions into a family heirloom cookbook!

Stoney Creek’s Favorite Memories to Share

Here are some of our favorite things to do around the holidays that you might think about beginning with your family.

  • Make a paper chain decoration with vacation boredom-busters. – The kids are out of school and the weather is cold and dark, making it harder to stay outside and busy! Make an old-school construction paper chain with easy activities for the holiday season. The best part: you can reuse the chain links year after year!
  • Fill your home with the scents of the holidays. – We often forget about our sense of smell and how it connects us to memories past. Put a pot on the back of the stove and fill it with ingredients such as cranberries, cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg, and orange peels. Let it simmer and your home will be filled with holiday aromas!
  • Incorporate a family game night. – Break out your favorite board games or play a family-rousing game of Fishbowl, which requires only paper, pens, and people ready to laugh.

Check out Stoney Creek Farm’s full list of our favorite holiday activities that just might be your next treasured tradition.

Making Your Memories Yours – Sustaining New Family Memories

Maybe you didn’t come from a family with strong traditions. Many people come from backgrounds that weren’t filled with joy, togetherness, and the warmth of family. Others of us now have lives that look very different than what we imagined for ourselves growing up (like me). Olin and I have made it a priority to meld the traditions and memories that we each had from childhood and make new ones with our own family.

Whatever it is, make sure to add your family’s unique touch to your traditions. Let the memories make themselves, rather than forcing a preconceived notion of what you think something should be. Memories are what you make of them!