By Lavona Richardson
Jay and I felt that family traditions were important. We tried to take the best traditions from each of our families that we grew up in for our family and then made some traditions of our own. We instilled in our family the importance of attending Sacrament Meeting and all of our other meetings each Sunday. We sat together as a family at all the Church meetings except when one was assigned to sit on the stand. We sustained our church leaders and never spoke anything negative about our ward, stake or church leaders. Each morning we read scriptures together with each family member taking their turn to read. We had family prayer every morning and every evening. We went together to Tithing settlement at the end of each year. Every Monday night we had family home evening lessons. Before home evening we had a family planning session where each family member told us about the activities they had the following week and we planned the use of our cars and who would go to what event. It was our family tradition to support each other and as often as possible we would attend together as a family the concerts, ball games, cross country meets, 4-H contests and other events to give our support. Our children knew that when they had an event we would all support them.
We celebrated the holidays with special holiday family traditions. On New Year’s Day I would make sauerkraut and pork following the tradition we learned when we were in Pennsylvania that by so doing we would have a prosperous New Year. We found that prosperity meant a great family doing good things instead of worldly wealth.
Valentine’s Day we would send each other valentines. I made rolled out heart cookies and helped with school valentine parties. For many years we celebrated Easter as a family by being in the Easter Pageant at the Arizona Temple Grounds. Usually the Saturday before Easter we planned an Easter picnic at a local park. Easter Sunday we had a tradition of a family picture in our Easter clothes.
Another tradition of our family was that of doing our best. We celebrated at the end of the school year the successes of different family members and attended graduation ceremonies together.
Some of our summer traditions were family reunions. The Ray and Verna Richardson family usually had a camp out that we attended. Around July 24thwe usually went to Snowflake to celebrate at the big Flake Reunion followed by the Founder’s Day Celebration of a parade, pioneer program, rodeo and dance. Another event during the summer months was a family trip to Utah to see married children or the big “M & M Trip” to Church History Sites. We took various other family trips which will be included in another chapter.
The first day of school was important with father’s blessing for each child and a photo as they left for school on that first day.
Another tradition of our family was to be involved in lots of activities in the school. It is a tradition in our family to love to read. I always had lots of good books around to read. For many years I had a church bookstore in my home which helped us build our own family library.
A tradition for Halloween is to have a Halloween Home Evening together theMonday night before Halloween. I made pizza to serve and either cupcakes or rolled out decorated cookies. It is tradition for me to tell the ‘Strange Visitor” story. I started telling the story to my older children when they were toddlers and have continued through the years. We have costume parades with the opportunity for each one to tell about their costume and be spotlighted. Another tradition at our Halloween party is to carve Jack-o-Lanterns. Thanksgiving always brings a family dinner together with everyone contributing to the meal.
At Christmas time we often would go caroling to our neighbors. For several years the children would play tunes on our chimes (metal pipes of various lengths) for caroling or special programs. We usually were able to get pictures with Santa at our Ward Party. Christmas Eve we always had the children act out the story of the First Christmas. Melvin always wanted to be the narrator. We had donkeys, Mary and Joseph and the baby and shepherds and wise men. Another tradition is to sing their Dad’s song of “Mary Sweet Mary” which tells Joseph’s feelings as he and Mary went to Bethlehem. At the end of the program everyone could open one gift which was always something alike for everyone- new pajamas, a knit cap, mittens, shirts alike or whatever. We always took a creative photo of everyone wearing their new item received on Christmas Eve. For several weeks before Christmas we would make Christmas goodies. I asked each one to tell one Christmas goody that they wanted and tried to include making those treats in our family preparations. I made raisin filled cookies and we had popcorn balls, fudge, cookies and lots of Christmas goodies. We have a big family dinner together.
One of the events that I enjoyed the most was working with Jay to put out Christmas. We would carefully plan for some gift for each child that would surprise and excite them. The Santa gifts we didn’t wrap. Very early Christmas morning on the years that we had paper routes we had to deliver the papers before we could start our festivities. To begin our Christmas festivities we would first open our Christmas stockings and each would tell what they found in their Christmas stockings. Their Dad would always be sure he had a big red apple to place in the toe of the stocking. Next we would have breakfast together. I made cinnamon rolls for breakfast to have with fruit.
Christmas morning we always have Christmas races. Each family member is timed as they run around the tree and a winner declared each year. We then tell one thing that we saw around the tree such as a new bicycle, game or whatever. After we go into the tree we take time giving out the gifts and enjoying them. The person giving the gift can find the gift under the tree and tell about purchasing it for some family member as they give it to them.
I enjoy photography and made scrapbooks of family events through the years. The walls of my home are filled with pictures of our family and my children’s families. My bookshelves are full of family scrapbooks and family memories.
One of our special family traditions is temple marriages. Through the years we have always made temple attendance a priority in our lives. All of our children and grandchildren that are married are married in the temple. What a great joy this is in my life. I look forward to many more temple marriages as our children and grandchildren find the one that is right for them.
I feel that our family traditions are important and make our family the great family that it is. It is a great joy to see my children incorporating some of these traditions in their families and making even more traditions that give them strong families. I am grateful for membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and for the way of life it gives us as we strive to live the teachings of Jesus Christ. I am happy that we are always making new traditions and each day striving to be better than we were the day before.