The weather is getting colder, the Christmas tree has made its way out of the attic, the list of to-dos and to-buys are piling high—it’s the most wonderful time of the year! And as we all are prepping for the end of this year and the fresh start of another, I can’t help but take a moment to reflect on all the amazing things that happened in 2018.
You may remember I made a vow in January this year that I would not fall victim to yet another New Year’s Resolution gone bad. Meaning…I was going to accept right out of the gate just how unattainable a lot of our resolutions can be. We often fall victim to putting such outrageous expectations on ourselves, and then when we come up short, our confidence takes a nosedive. So instead of falling into that same ol’ trap for another year, I decided to do something different. Instead of focusing on my laundry list of resolutions, I wanted to turn my focus on myself. That’s it. Just one attainable thing that I could work towards every single month that would ultimately make me just a better all around human. A better wife, a better business woman, a better friend, and a better mother. And let me be honest—I wasn’t sure I could do it! But the really amazing this is that I did. Each month I looked forward to introducing my new theme to all of you and bearing my heart and soul in admitting all the ways I felt I needed to improve. And just like that, Our 12 Months of Transformation was born!
Twelve entire months dedicated to becoming the best version of Heidi I could possibly be. In doing so, I’ve noticed that not only am I more centered, but I’m more at peace with myself. I’ve gotten better at identifying some things that have been holding me back and following through on some promises I hold dear. And based on some of the feedback you’ve all shared with me, I know that these monthly themes have also meant so much to you!
So as we enter the very last month of 2018, I wanted to end on one more theme that is so very special to me. A theme that is actually pretty common around the holiday season, but something that I feel is just so dang important that we need to make a promise to try and honor it more times throughout the year. Think you know?? Let’s see!
Our 12 Month Transformation, Month 12: Family Traditions
This is the time of year that inevitably comes with wonderful holiday traditions we all know and love. Some Christmas and holiday traditions are just expected and relatively standard across all American families: spending a little extra time together, a Christmas tree or Menorah, excess food and treats, holiday songs, etc. These traditions, as simple and seemingly just a part of life as they may be, are almost a vital part of not just family life, but childhood itself.
Think back when you were growing up. What were some of those family traditions you remember most? Was it baking pies and Christmas cookies with your grandmother? Or staying up late on Christmas Eve trying to hear Santa’s reindeer on the roof? Whatever that memory is that comes to your mind right away probably stemmed from a tradition of some sort. And the fact that it’s stayed with you all these years just proves how important our traditions can be and how impactful they may be in shaping us as we grow older.
Traditions allow us to take a break from the mundane, to bring attention and anticipation to something—making time pass more slowly, to force us to savor these magical moments with our families. Giving our children something to look forward to, like a tradition, builds memories, encourages a sense of belonging, and spreads love and gratitude—something I know all us mamas want for our kiddos.
One of my favorite holiday traditions from when I was little came from my grandpa. My mom’s side of the family is Polish, and one of the ways we would honor that was with a Polish tradition every Christmas Eve. We would each take a piece of Oplatek—a wafer-like bread. Then we would gather around in a large circle, and we would turn to the person next to us and break off a piece of their Oplatek. As we did this, we would tell that person something we appreciated about them. So in addition to exchanging little pieces of bread, we would also exchange tokens of appreciation. I used to look forward to this every single year because it was a chance for me to tell my grandpa just how special he was to me and all the ways I loved him. It gave us all an opportunity to speak out loud the way we felt about each other.
I can’t think back on those Christmases without shedding a tear or two! Some of those affirmations have stayed with me all these years, and I realize just how lucky I’ve been to grow up in the family I have. I really feel that these traditions—both holiday and non-holiday—were the glue that bound my family together, and they are now the thoughts and memories that overwhelm me with appreciation for my parents. Believe me when I say I truly hit the jackpot when it comes to parents! There were so many little (and big!) things my parents did to make each of their four kids feel incredibly loved. As I raise my own family and think about what type of mother I want to be and what kind of childhood I want to shape for my own four littles, I often finding myself thinking about those traditions that I grew up with.
But I think it’s also so important to mention that traditions don’t just have to be holiday-based, or even be these larger than life events. I read something recently that literally made me shout out loud, YES! It was an article saying that there are two ways traditions can be special: 1) If they’re done daily, and 2) If they’re honored every once in a while.
You see, in order to make a tradition stick and form this important memory in your and your childrens’ brains, they can’t just be an occasional thing. Sometimes you do them, sometimes you don’t. There’s no special value in that. They either have to be something you look forward to every single day, or something you look forward to doing once or twice a year.
As silly as it may sound, one of my traditions that I look forward to is my daily trip to Starbucks. You may be thinking, “Oh come on, Heidi…that’s not a tradition!” But it seriously is, and it holds a special place in my heart and my energy levels (ha!). I know that I could make a cup of coffee at home, but there’s not as much magic in that. My daily Starbucks run has become part of my routine and the part of my morning that I genuinely look forward to every single day. And more than that, it’s something the kids have come to expect and enjoy (and even laugh about sometimes!). I know it may not seem like your typical tradition, but for me, that Starbucks trip is what marks the start of each new day. It’s also something that gives my kiddos—who, truth be told, often live in a world of unknowns and crazy schedules—a sense of security and consistency. For sweet little Ruby, it’s given her the joy of helping mama complete a really important job—helping me get ready to face my day and whatever life throws at me! To see her sweet little face and that self-satisfied little smile to know she’s doing her “important big girl work” is something that I look forward to every single day. To some it may just be a cup of coffee, but to my little Powell Pack, our daily Starbucks run is a tradition that we’ve all come to love.
Some day, when all my kiddos have grown up and left the nest (someday in the far far far far future, because I can’t really think about that day right now!), I want them to look back and remember the things we did as a family that brought us smiles, both big and small. When I was younger, a tradition from my own mother was a lunch box note. It was never anything fancy, just a little handwritten “I love you!” or “Have a good day!”, but it was something my mom did every single day for me, and I came to expect and look forward to it with every school lunch. It was the little things—the tiny, every day traditions—that shaped my childhood, and it’s those tiny every day traditions that I’m pouring value into for my kiddos too.
I know those memories are going to be full of the big and small things we’ve done together over the years. The daily Starbucks trips, the holiday decorating, family game night, and our yearly escape to our second home in Park City. It’s really not anything fancy, and we don’t plan huge adventures or schedule our days full of amusement parks and thrills. Instead, it’s a lot of lounging around, playing games, and just enjoying each other’s company. With a life as busy as ours, that one week a year we get to run away from it all to the mountains with our sweet kids and just BE is absolutely incredible. And this trip is hands-down every member of our family’s favorite week of the year. It’s a tradition that is unique and special to us, and we love every single second of it.
So as we close out this year, I know that I am going to be spending a little more time focusing on our family traditions, teaching our kids some of the things that were so important to both me and Chris as we grew up, and starting/continuing some of our own Powell Family Traditions..always remembering that traditions don’t just have to be upheld during the holiday season, but that they’re something that can be honored all year long.
As this year wraps up and the holidays settle in, I challenge you to join me in finding a new family tradition. Don’t let it overwhelm you or make you feel like it’s just one more thing on that to-do list! It doesn’t need to be extravagant or cost any money at all. Maybe you begin a ritual of a family walk at night or reading a book before bed. Maybe you commit to finally scheduling that family vacation and make a plan to head to the beach every spring break. Maybe you decide that you want to volunteer at a soup kitchen once a month. Whatever it is, make it special and unique to your family. I have truly found that traditions have the power to shape not only our children, but our entire lives, bringing more richness and joy into our world and filling our memories with a whole lot of love.
One more thing before you go…tell me what your new tradition is going to be in the comments below! If you’ve been following along all year for our entire 12 Months of Transformation, I’d love to hear which month resonated the most with you. This year has definitely been full of its share of ups and downs, but I can honestly say that these monthly transformations have meant the world to me, and I hope that you’ve found some value in them as well!!!