Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My Holiday Family Traditions

Welcome to the December Carnival of Natural Parenting: Let's Talk Traditions

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama.

Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


There are two things I remember about holidays with my family above all the food, presents or whatever else we were celebrating.  The first was the family games after all the hoopla settled down. It didn't matter what holiday we were celebrating, you could be certain my mom was going to pull out one of two games or both depending on how early we started or how late everyone wanted to stay. I would like to share those two games with you as well as how I have adjusted that to fit my family.We never knew how many people were going to be joining us for the holiday dinner.  You see, our family has always fluctuated in its size both growing and shrinking.  We also never subscribed to the saying "You can't choose your family" and adopted family members as the years went on. That very fluid family structure led to a very loose and open guest list for holidays.

The first game which you might already be familiar with is UNO, a card game that does not have a limit on the amount of players that can play at one time.  That part was a key reason that UNO became part of our family games.  The thing is, though, it was fun and simple.  You matched numbers or color suits and as a child it really helped to establish recall and strategy skills.  You also got a good lesson on adding and subtracting snuck in there when it came to awarding points.  I think our favorite part was how poor Auntie Ann (an adopted relative) could not remember the rules and would always lose the challenge.
The second game which you may or may not be familiar with is Tri-Ominos which is a game similar to dominos.  This game also helped with matching and adding and was pretty complicated with how bonus points are awarded but once you learned the rules was really fun to play.  We played on a lazy-susan that my father had done a wood-burning on which allowed all players to get an equal view of the board.  I can remember getting so excited when I saw the quilted handbag coming out that contained the pieces and hearing the tiles click together as each player shook the bag in order to get the best tile selection to start the game.
Now as to our holiday tradition of adopting family members.  If my family knew that you didn't have anywhere to go on the holidays they welcomed you with open arms.  For many years it was my Mom and Dad hosting the holidays and our family would come over and bring their friends with them to share our food and traditions.  Auntie Ann was a woman my Nana worked with who was an immigrant from Ireland with no relations here in America.  My Uncle brought someone along every year from where he worked as well until his friend became a permanent fixture at our family table and in our home.
After my Nana returned to England and both my Grandfather and Grandmother passed away, we became the adopted "family" to our neighbors who welcomed our family into their homes on holidays so we could make new traditions and of course UNO and Tri-Ominos came with us in our travels.  When my parents retired to the south they and their neighbors took turns hosting each other during the holidays so that no one was left alone far from family homes.  I was lucky enough to be adopted into my college friend's family who has now become part of my real family after I married her brother.  Now for our first Christmas with Little Man, we are hosting it at our home and bringing together our two families and of course some extra adopted members.  I'll be dragging out that quilted bag full of tiles, and I called my Mom to be sure to pack the deck of UNO cards.  Don't worry, the lazy-susan is there as well, so I can pass on what I remember most from our holidays with my son and my newly expanded family.
Bag of Tri-Ominos ready to go on the lazy-susan my Dad decorated.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
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(This list will be live and updated by afternoon December 14 with all the carnival links.)


  1. I LOVE games with family!! Both my family and my husband's family do games, I'm hoping that when we have Christmas at our house this year that everyone will have fun joining forces and trying some new ones together. I've not heard of Tri-ominoes before, thanks for the recommendation!

  2. I love the joyful tone in your post. I can totally feel how welcoming your family is, and how much fun it must be to come over to a holiday celebration with your clan! We've long enjoyed UNO, but I have to admit we've never tried Tri-Ominos. I'll have to find some somewhere! I totally know what you mean, though, about a special bag and lazy susan, because we have just that for Scrabble at my parents' house, passed down from my grandmother.

  3. I love this: "If my family knew that you didn't have anywhere to go on the holidays they welcomed you with open arms." I've always wanted to be that family but am not much of a hostess. I am, however, big on the games, so maybe I can incorporate that!

  4. One of my fondest memories is of playing UNO late into the night with a large group of extended family while on vacation up in New Hampshire one summer years and years ago. So much fun! It's one of the few games that is better with more players. Perhaps when the little ones get bigger it will be something for my family to do on the holidays — my dad generally has a big crowd at his home, with various family members and stepfamily members and so on. This year, though, I'm going to ask my sister to bring Yahtzee....

  5. Uno is the one game my family always loves to pull out. It is great to introduce the game the children of the family as they grow as well. Your memories are obviously very bright, you can hear it in your post!

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