Family Traditions May Change a Bit with Bigs, but the Memory Making Remains Constant

Holly Jolly Christmas bellowed through the minivan as we pulled into the Christmas tree farm the day after Thanksgiving, circa 1999. The sun sparkled on snow-covered pines giving even greater meaning to the joyful lyrics on the radio.

Our littles who were 2, 4, and 6 years old at the time squealed with delight in anticipation of the big tree cutting adventure. This would be the first of what has become a 19-year family tradition. The hallmarks of our annual quest include snowball fights, hide-n-seek, snow angel making, and large doses of hot chocolate and powdered donuts.

Of course, the actual cutting down of the tree is the main event. Each kid takes a turn sawing the trunk, followed by the hubs whose final strokes bring the tree to a thud on the white stuff below. Oohs and awes echo across the landscape every time.

Family Traditions

Year after year the memories have stacked up. I’ve snapped pics of flying balls of snow and faces showing both laughter and tears when someone took a shot to the face. Countless photos captured my little lumber jacks grinning under the tree as they managed the saw despite being bundled from head to toe in winter gear. Some of my favorites are the pictures of rosy cheeks and lips covered in chocolate mustaches and powdered sugar.

There’s something about family traditions that simultaneously melt our insides and fill our heart to overflowing. We look forward to the events each year, while also wondering how in the world so many days screamed by in between.

While time seems to stand still in the moments we cut down trees, bake cookies, decorate the house, or spend an evening caroling through town, the hourglass still drops sand. Some of us may wonder if our traditions will reach an end point when our littles become bigs. Since I’ve reached this stage of parenting young adults, I can share what I’ve experienced.

Over time, we’re all guaranteed the reality of change surrounding our family traditions. Littles become tweens, who become teens, who then morph into adults. Then college schedules, significant others, and logistics in general will alter the dynamics of our traditions. Sometimes not all our kids will be able to partake, or other times our immediate family will extend to include girlfriends, boyfriends, and even spouses. Welcoming new people into the mix has been one of my greatest joys over the years.

Our traditions may take on a new look and feel, but the more we focus on what is rather than what was when it comes to our cherished customs, the more we appreciate the blessing of memory making for exactly what it is at any point in time.

This year, only three of us took part in our annual tradition of cutting down the Christmas tree. Our oldest son lives and works out of town and couldn’t make it home and our youngest was busy at college getting ready for finals week. But our 23-year-old middle son joined my husband and I and we enjoyed every bit of our time together. This year, Kyle took the honor of enacting the final strokes of the saw to bring the tree to its resting place. Because he’s a strong young man, he also dragged the tree up to the front of the farm to spare my hubby’s aching shoulders. Another perk of big kids picking up the slack as part of our getting oldness.

Family Traditions

I did miss having our other two kids around this year. Every Momma wishes to have all her offspring in tow no matter what is going on. So, I included them in the mix by texting them live photo updates. The miracle of technology.

At the end of the day, as Mommas we cherish any opportunities to spend with our grown-up kiddos. Even five minutes is a gift. Sharing love, even if only by heartstrings from a distance, is a tradition that stands the test of time. Love knows no bounds.

Merry Christmas!

Shelby Spear
Shelby is a sappy soul whisperer, sarcasm aficionado, and pro-LOVE, Jesus adoring mom of 3 Millennials writing stuff & doing life with her hubby of 25 years. You can read her stories on her blog at, around the web, and in print at Guideposts. Shelby's new book, co-authored with Lisa Leshaw, is now available: How Are You Feeling, Momma? (You don't need to say, "I'm fine.")

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