TRADITIONS -3 part series


​The history of and importance of tradition is tied closely to an inexact and fleeting kind of process, one which to this day modern science and philosophical wonder has yet been able to map out in a conclusive manner. That is the process of remembrance, or the way that our mind recalls memories from the past. Plenty of scientific research has been done that definitively shows the inexact nature of how we take down memories, but we have yet to pinpoint what makes something, anything, truly memorable.

​Thinking back to your past, your childhood, one can never remember specific dates, times, and other such unimportant details, but instead we remember moments. Maybe we particularly remember the vivid color of a new toy, the smell of summer or fresh baked cookies, or the sounds of a waterfall you visited as a child. If we remember only these particular sensory intakes of specific moments, is there a formula, a possible way to “create” an event that will truly and definitively be stored in our memory? Video camera’s and sound recording devices all make an attempt to “capture” a moment, and save it for a later date, but is this the equivalent to a memory? Such modern recording devices are becoming more and more accurate in their representation of a past event, but even these are only surface representations of any stored memory in one’s head, as memory goes deeper than simply the sensory absorption of an event.

​Memory cannot be defined by the capturing of a video or a sound recording that only records a few senses (sight, sound), but instead is the whole and complete feeling of a comprehensive event. When one looks at a photograph, it does not represent that memory, but instead we use the language that the photograph “brings back old memories,” and instead only triggers that feeling of the memory stored in our minds.

​Thus, creating a memory is something natural, something spontaneous, and something that cannot be forced by the use of a video camera or a state of mind. Remembrance may be imperfect in its nature, but what can anyone do but to live in the moment, do their best to create lasting memories of joy and happiness with loved ones, and let the ride of life take its course? Who can say what the best way of creating a memory, or even deeper, a tradition, truly is?


The Sleep Over Cure

08klass-blog480-300x227Terri Cettina wrote a sleepover article in Parenting called The Sleepover Survival Guide,  in it she has some really practical tips and thoughts.

And while I read it I thought, OKAY I hear you, Terri, but I won’t NEED a survival guide, because first I’m a WAY COOL mom, and I’ve got this one down COLD!  I listened to other mothers’ horror stories, I took my notes, AND I’ve followed all the rules written on every SLUMBER Party article out there.

I had a theme, I had an invite list narrowed to only the girls that got along (mothers too – check one for me…I’m double covered!), and most importantly I discussed expectations ahead of time with my daughter.  It was her FIRST birthday SLUMBER party a rite of passage for any 8 year old.  I had everything on a list and timed.  I overpaid for someone to wash, style and sparkle hair, for another to buff and polish fingers and toes, I had a movie picked out with family members dropping by in costume- all in theme.  I set bedtime to 10pm.

The only thing I didn’t count on was the girls going ROUGE!  OFF SCHEDULE…doing their own thing in their own time.  AND I didn’t count on them NOT falling asleep eventually….

It was around one in the morning when I REMEMBERED something I forgot.   How my mother handled my first-rite-of-passage-PAJAMA-party.  The Sugar Plum Tree!

A 19th century poem recited to us to help us fall asleep and dream of a sweet wonderful adventure.  The twist for us was when we woke up there would be a little candy under our bed…sort of proof the tree was real.   It worked for me, and for my friends, we were so eager to get to sleep we were tripping over each other to get to our sleeping bags.

So….I thought…let’s try it! I explained to my little charges that I was telling them a magical poem, and I apologized because I meant to do it sooner because the Garden of Shut Eye Town where the tree grows closes at 2am.  So they would have to listen closely and fall right to sleep for the magic to work.

Within 20 minutes they were all wiggling in their bags – trying hard to fall asleep.  By 3am I could have run the vacuum in their room and I doubt if anyone would have budged.  Unfortunately for me, because I didn’t plan it well, I had to run out to buy the candy, and fill 8 little bags before they really woke up.

Was it worth it?  Me not sleeping and needed a pot of coffee to stay awake?  And running out of the house to find candy at ungodly hour?  YES!  To see them all wake up SCREAMING that it was real!  Well, that was better than cool!  And my daughter now had the BEST birthday SLEEPOVER EVER!!  At least that’s what the party of 8 said.


One Family’s Delicious Sugar Plum Tradition


Every family has some sort of tradition come this time of year. We heard about Katherine Hill’s Sugar Plum cookies and wanted to know more. After all, the story behind the cookie has a lot more meaning for the Hill family.

What is your family tradition?

Katherine explains, “We make Sugar Plums every year, at the beginning of Christmas season!” The Sugar Plum tradition has been in her family ever since her father was a little boy. “We think my grandmother found the recipe in Readers Digest or a magazine at some point, she can’t remember exactly. But she always made them every year.”   

What does your family tradition mean to you?

Every tradition carries a different meaning for families. We were curious to know what these Sugar Plum treats meant to the Hill family.


Dad – “It’s a time for family to be together to make something sweet that everyone loves. It’s about togetherness, fun and smiles!”

Katherine –  “Sharing the tradition with other people, the memories of when we were kids making them with Dad.  I get enjoyment out of knowing people are going to love them while I’m making them.  It’s such a fun treat and people are always surprised by how good they are, and how simple they are to make…and really, they’re just awesome!”

Jennifer (sister) – “It means the start of the Christmas season.  Making time in our very busy schedules to have fun and be together.  We were always so busy with so many things during the holidays, so it was nice to stop and have some focused time together.”

Mom – “It’s the start of the season, and an activity to do together.  It’s something specifically to tie our family together with a holiday tradition.  Since my family didn’t have traditions during the holidays, it’s important that we have these times with our family.”


What’s your favorite memory making Sugar Plums?

Katherine- “Probably this one.  I have great memories of growing up making them, but they all blend together!  Since my sister and I have gotten married, we have made them by ourselves, and our husbands have helped.  But this year, all 6 of us got together, all got dressed up and spent time together laughing, watching football, playing with my niece, and made sugar plums.  It was a fun time together (and may be a new addition to the tradition to do them together and not by ourselves!)”

Dad- “The first time each of the girls was old enough and ready to help.”

Jennifer- “
They all kind of blur together at some point, but Katherine I licking the sugar off our fingers when we were done and exclaiming “Mom look, our fingers are RED!!”


Creating Memories

We discovered that Katherine’s family tradition of making sugar plum cookies isn’t really about the cookies at all. It’s about the memories every one creates together. Making sugar plums is simply the activity that pulls together an entire family where the memories are created.

Want the recipe? 

Like our Facebook page to see our step-by-step photo album for the Sugar Plum recipe.





The Magic of Family Traditions

Paper chain family protected in cupped handsThink back to when you were a kid. What do you remember the most about your childhood? I bet you aren’t thinking of the gifts you got, I bet you are thinking of the time you spent with your family.  It might be the family traditions that made you and your family unique and special.

According to Meg Cox, author of The Book of New Family Traditions, family traditions, “…include a heightened attentiveness and something extra that lifts it above the ordinary ruts.” Traditions can add magic to our everyday lives, and that magic is what we remember the most.

Research has shown that families who have their own traditions have a higher sense of security and well-being. This is especially important for young children as they crave stability and a sense of security from their family unit.

There are different types of family traditions that are all equally important:

1. Daily Traditions

These are the everyday things you do together as a family like sitting down for family dinner or walking the dog together. These daily rituals help contribute to a sense of family stability for children.

2. Weekly Traditions

Same as daily traditions but just done once a week. Maybe it’s visiting grandma for dinner, or reading a bedtime story. Whatever the tradition, your family has to wait a little bit longer than each day to perform the tradition.

3. Life-Long Traditions

These are the traditions that happen infrequently and make a child’s experience the most memorable. Maybe it’s decorating the Christmas tree the day before Christmas, or eating as many grapes as you can on New Years Eve for good luck. What ever that may be, these life-long traditions are what your children will carry on throughout their adult life.

But let’s admit that sometimes family traditions get old. Maybe it’s because your children are getting older or they start to dread decorating the tree at Christmas time, whatever the reason it’s important to introduce new family traditions to your family to keep the magic alive.

And that new tradition can simply be reading a new bedtime story to your children.



The Surprising History of The Sugar Plum Tree

Screen-shot-2013-11-03-at-4.35.30-PM-236x300We are not the original creators of The Sugar Plum Tree, our poem is simply the second version of a 19th century children’s poem written by Eugene Field. Surprising, right?

During the 1870’s, Field was a popular journalist from St. Louis Missouri, who was most know for his humorous articles and gossipy style featured in the St. Joseph Gazette. And he was a selfless man. Every single paycheck he received was sent to his wife and 8 children, claiming he had no head for the money himself.

In 1883 Field’s moved from St. Louis to Chicago to write for the Chicago Daily News. He contributed to a humorous column called Sharps and Flats. The most popular topic he wrote about, or poked fun at, was how Chicago was so much better than Boston.

It wasn’t until 1879 Field’s published his first poem, “Christmas Treasures.” After that, he published a total of 12 poems, one of them being The Sugar Plum Tree.  The two characters in the poem, the chocolate cat and gingerbread dog, is based off of his famous poem “The Duel” (most commonly known as The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat.)

Today, Field is most known for his light-hearted poem for children and we are so thrilled to have been read his poem when we were children. So here’s to you Mr. Eugene Field! Your legacy will live on through the 21st century and beyond, so long as children believe in The Sugar Plum Tree.


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