Thursday, April 2, 2009

Living Lovely with Family

This week's theme at Mt. Hope Chronicles' Living Lovely with Family is annual traditions. We have a lot!

January: My Dad's birthday. For some reason his birthday, more than anyone else's, always merits a good family party. Usually my two Tennessee brothers (I also have two in New York) and their families come over to our house, and we have a rousing night of card playing.

• On Valentine's Day we have two traditions. First, I always create a scavenger hunt for the kids that leads them through the house, with little piles of candy here and there. (Jesse no longer participates but appreciates his candy in one lump sum.) And for Valentine's dinner we always have spaghetti because that's what Dr. H. and I had on our first Valentine's day together, when we were poor college students.

• Generally during the last week in February, the daffodils are in flower at Cades Cove in the Smokies. We pick the perfect sunny Sunday, pack a picnic, and take a drive around the loop.

Easter: I used to do a fabulous Easter egg hunt at my house. It was so much work that I decided just to do it every-other-year, and I think this is probably the year I should be doing it (actually, I think I was supposed to do it last year). It really was fun, but now we usually just have one family over after church and have the kids hunt some eggs.

Family Trip: Our new tradition is to take a family trip in May. We like to do this during the second week of the month, after classes are done at UT but before the school are out for the summer. The first year we had a fantastic, amazing vacation at Disney World, and last year we went to Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown. This year we are planning a much smaller scale trip to a few Civil War sites in Nashville and Chattanooga.

4th of July: Dr. H. and Jesse have been gone for years during the 4th of July because of Boy Scout camp, so the kids and I generally head over to my brother John's house for a cookout and insane fireworks. My brothers should not be trusted with explosives, but it does make the evening exciting!

• New York: For probably nine or 10 years, we've gone to my hometown, where my parents still live half the year, in upstate New York during the first two weeks of August. Swimming, sailing, bonfires, and the comfort of my parents. It's a vital part of my summer. I thought last year would be our last one, as my parents put their house on the market, but it still hasn't sold. We may still have another vacation there!

• Scouting Family Camp-out: This is a new annual tradition—just started last year—but we have our reservations in again this year. This is for our Boy Scout, Cub Scout, and American Heritage Girls families. We had a fantastic time last August and look forward to it again this year.

October: Soup and Pumpkin Party. This is one of my absolute favorite annual traditions. We have a bunch of friends over—around 50—and have a night of soup (everyone brings a pot) and pumpkin carving. Probably more than anything else—possibly even more than our Christmas traditions!—our kids will remember this chilly autumn evenings spent in the midst of dozens of friends, the warmth of soup, and the smell of pumpkin guts.

Autumn in Cades Cove: For years, the kids and I have taken one perfect day in late October or early November to drive around the Cades Cove loop. We take our school books with us, find a warm spot, and read. The kids climb in the barns, and we stop and visit each old cabin, even though we've seen them all dozens of times. Somehow this closes off autumn for us and allows us to welcome in winter.

Christmas and Thanksgiving have loads of traditions of their own. We always have Thanksgiving at one of my brothers' houses and then have Christmas here at our house. We always go to our city's Christmas parade and come home with sacks full of candy. We always cut down our Christmas tree at the same tree farm, and it's usually a balmy, spring-like day. And we absolutely must make and decorate a few dozen sugar cookies, besides all the other cookies we make during December.

What yearly traditions do you have? Share your thoughts at Mt. Hope Chronicles!


  1. I enjoyed the tour through your year. :) I just love your spirit, Sarah! It must be fun being a part of your family. Thank you so much for sharing.

  2. Great traditions! Your family trips sound like so much fun! I totally forgot to mention in my post that we almost always have friends over for a pumpkin carving party for which I always make white chili.

  3. You always have such a great (and lengthy!) list... thank you so much for sharing :) Each week I walk away encouraged and inspired!


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