Our family (Jay and I and our kids) has never really been big on establishing routines - we're pretty laid back, we "fly by the seat of our pants" and we "roll with the punches" (Did I miss any cliches?). None of us really get upset or frazzled when something changes at the last minute.
Since we adopted, routines and traditions have become more important to me, simply because it is so important for our sons. I've become very aware of all the little things that our boys now have, simply because they are part of a FAMILY. So many things that I used to take for granted .. I now see with fresh eyes and a new appreciation because my sons never would have had these little things ... because they had no family.
I wrote previously (click here) about how momentous it was to watch my father pass on some of his woodworking skills to his grandson (a former orphan) and how the earth almost seemed to shift on its axis when I realized that this "passing on of a legacy" was something that my sons never would have had ... because they did not have a father or a grandfather.
Family traditions are one of those things that just happen naturally and can easily be taken for granted, or simply overlooked as they are happening. It's usually only much later (sadly, its perhaps when grandma or mom passes away and things are just never the same) that you realize how much these little routines have become part of the very fabric of your family. And how truly meaningful they are.
Several years ago, we started something that has since turned into a family tradition. On New Years Eve, my sister and her husband plan a menu - and we spend most of the day preparing it. The menu is different every year, and the ingredients are intriguing and unique. Half of the fun is in the preparation and the other half is simply the time we have together with all the adults (8 of us) in the kitchen, and the kids in and out.
All 10 of our kids (cousins) are together all day and after the meal is eaten, and a few games have been played, and New Year's gifts are exchanged (the kids draw names at Christmas and then hit the after Christmas sales to find a fun gift for one of the cousins) - then the kids start watching the clock so we can see the ball drop and count down to the New Year together. (Thankfully (for us sleep deprived adults) - the ball drops in New York City at midnight and it is only 11:00 pm here!)
As Christmas neared this year, the kids were already talking about New Years Eve and asking "are we doing the same thing we did last year???" The boys knew the routine too - and I smiled inwardly as I recognized the threads of this new family tradition had already been woven into the fabric of their lives.