It is not always a big Christmas celebration or expensive trip that we need with our families. In our family, sometimes the little celebrations have been the best.
When the girls were little, I once made them each a dress for their American Girl dolls. I think this was to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Instead of wrapping the gifts, I gave them clues all over the house about where to find the gifts. They finally found the dresses in the dryer. They loved the thrill of the hunt!
We celebrated the tooth fairy’s appearance; I had cross-stitched a little pillow that went under the girls’ pillows. We still display that little pillow with a pocket in the living room. I am pretty sure that it still has teeth in it!
We always took pictures the first day of school, even though we homeschooled. It was interesting to see that changes over the years.
A fall tradition was to go downtown to Baer Fabric, a building with several stories that housed fabric and costume supplies. We would get the girls’ leotards, tights, dance shoes, dance skirts and snoods to cover their buns. Unfortunately, this historic building is no longer there.
The sisters loved to buy little gifts for each other, especially at Christmas time. I would give them each five dollars and we had five people in our family, so that would stretch for five gifts. They would take their little baskets and go up and down the aisles. To keep them from seeing what each other was buying, I stood at the end of the aisles to “referee”. If I saw a daughter headed into the same aisle where another daughter was shopping, I would motion for her to find another aisle. When the gifts were purchased, one girl would go to the register at a time, when the other two girls stayed in different places in the store until they were called. It sounds complicated, but they loved it, and they managed to put together some nice gifts with what they found.
We liked to celebrate with food. On Dr. Suess’ birthday, we made green eggs and ham (and milk). They also liked to eat foods traditional to our family on other holidays, and our decorated Christmas cookies were an event.
When a daughter had a birthday, we would have her favorite dinner, along with her favorite cake. She would receive a few small gifts. The girls had friends over for birthdays, but it was typically an event that cost very little and used lots of creativity. The birthday girl would give me a theme and I would shop for things or make things that fit with that theme.
On the girls’ half-birthdays, I made half a cake (one round cut in half and stacked in two pieces). We had a nice dinner and then the !/2 birthday girl received $5 – at that time, $5 would buy half a gift.
I loved giving the girls $5 on several occasions. When they’d earned their allowance, they could each have $5 at Toys R Us to shop. They carefully weighed their options, so this could take a long time.
We went on many field trips, and the girls would each be given $5 for the gift shops. Again, they could spend a long time shopping before making their final purchase. I was fine waiting – I loved to watch them having fun.
Going out for ice cream on the first warm day of the year was always fun. Someone always picked Superman bubble gum ice cream and went home wearing part of the treat on her shoe. (The bubble gum part).
I used the envelope system and took the girls shopping twice a year. We always listed what each girl needed after going through the closets, dressers and the hand-me-down boxes. My girls loved the hand-me-down boxes. They were excited about getting something an older girl couldn’t wear anymore, and the older girl would be sad to give away that piece of clothing. How many people do you know that say, “I can’t wait to get my hand-me-downs!”
We would spend the day shopping at some of the discount stores, and always finish at the consignment store, where we found some nice items!
In the evening, after dinner, Dad would sit in the living room and the girls would have a fashion show to let him see all their “new” clothes. This event included a lot of giggling, as they would walk the runway and strike model poses.
Dad liked to buy lots of dollar store items, in sets of three, before we left on a trip. He would talk with the girls about each leg of the trip. Every time we completed a leg, the girls would get a toy out of the bag.
Dad also liked to take the girls out on Sundays for father-daughter adventure times.
Each daughter went out with Dad occasionally for a one-on-one father-daughter date.
A big tradition was singing musicals when we traveled. Favorites included “The King and I”, “The Sound of Music”, “Annie Get Your Gun”, “Oklahoma” and “The Music Man”.
Any time one of the girls won an award, a part in a play or ballet some other recognition, or good test scores, we would celebrate with dinner and dessert. Homeade pizza and triple fudge brownies, or an M and M pizza cookie were among the choices.
A spring tradition was to buy flowers for the girls, and them to the girls at their piano and dance recitals.
As the girls got older and began first going away to camp, and later going to other countries, everyone worked together to make the traveling sister feel special. Each person wrote a note for every day the person was away, and they were numbered. Upon arriving back home the sister would be welcomed by a handmade banner.
They loved each other very much growing up and did so many things to show it.
Give me a handmade gift or card or some time together doing something fun over a big, expensive celebration any day.