My mom adventures in Fort Collins

Library book hoarder: “The Book of New Family Traditions”
February 12, 2012, 5:36 am
Filed under: Library book hoarder, Parenting | Tags: , ,

A self-professed book hoarder, I hope to actually read a few of the dozens of books I haul home from the library. Occasionally, I am successful. But that’s not always the case. I’ve had this particular book on loan since before Christmas.

The Book of New Family Traditions: How to Create Great Rituals for Holidays and Everyday by Meg Cox (2003)

The Book of New Family Traditions by Meg Cox is a great resource. Wonderful ideas that pertain to holidays, but plenty of other occasions as well.

I will fess up that I did not read the book cover to cover. However, this is the kind of book that does just fine as a resource manual: find a chapter or topic that interests you, or flip through willy-nilly. The author spends a bit of time early in the book distinguishing “ritual” from “tradition.” Most of her coverage is of rituals. Also included are some fun anecdotal family stories.

I liked:

  • One of the Thanksgiving ideas–a family had a special tablecloth that they used each year for the holiday, and every year each person at the table would sign the tablecloth in pen. Afterwards, the mom would embroider over the name. To commemorate each year she used a different color thread. The tablecloth then became a “visual history” (as the author calls it) of the holiday.
  • Lots of unconventional holiday ideas and various dates to celebrate–celebrate A.A. Milne’s birthday, the first day of Spring, May Day, Arbor Day, back-to-school night
  • Rituals for everyday occasions–Making a big deal out of losing a tooth, bedtime rituals, picking a night each week for the kids to pick the menu and plan the meal (cooking and preparing as is age-appropriate)

What I didn’t like:

  • The problem with any book like this is that you’ll feel like a total slacker. Don’t. So many rituals, so little time. If I utilize just one of these awesome ideas, I’ll consider myself a huge success.
  • The book isn’t super flashy, which is fine, but it’s brevity is a bit boring. So, in my opinion, if you’re going to go light on text, um, maybe spice it up with some fun photos?
  • Also: who are these families? The Vogts of Kentucky have family “Social Justice Night.” The author suggests that families make a homework ritual of announcing a “Country of the Week” to learn about on Sunday nights.  The Tabors of Illinois make grave rubbings every Halloween at a nearby cemetary.

But, I always say that there aren’t enough rituals in our culture. One of the main reasons that I had my girls baptized had nothing to do with religion, but it was to do with the lovely ritual of “welcoming” these kiddos to the world, to the community. I like rituals, and since I’m not a big planner a book like this is helpful to get me thinking about all the things I could be doing.

Verdict: This book is good fun.


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Thanks for writing about my book! I am always trying to learn from the things people write, pro and con. Since you remarked on the brevity, I thought you might like to know that I’ve spent quite a bit of time revising and expanding this book. A new edition, with twice as many traditions and celebrations, will be published May 22. Also, love what you said about how folks should not feel intimidated by what others do: I included a wide range because I wanted to spread ideas and inspiration.

Comment by meg cox

Well, I’m humbled, thanks for taking a look at my blog and being so open about my thoughts. I realllly liked the book, and the sentiment behind it. Likewise, congratulations to you on your second edition. I will have to check it out!

Comment by jaymers

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