Saturday, February 18, 2023

Traditions and Doughnut Day

I've been thinking a lot about family traditions. How are traditions different from routines and habits? I think of a traditions as a way that we celebrate holidays and special days. What happens when life shifts and traditions are forced to change? How much value should be put on traditions?

You probably expect that I'm thinking of this topic since losing Ed, and you are right. But I think that the loss of Ed upended routines and habits more than traditions. Actually, Ed and I didn't have many traditions. Someone asked what we did on Valentines' Day, and I had to dig deep in my memory. While I remember various ways we celebrated the holiday through the years, we didn't have a specific tradition. Same goes for birthdays and aniversaries.

Traditions are fun. It doesn't take young children long to build a tradition. Do something once or twice and I hear, "We always...." Even though I've struggled to build traditions like for the first day of school or on birthdays, we still have acquired a few traditions along the way.

This week, for the first time, my children and I are taking a trip without my two oldest children. (We plan to spend a week helping rebuild houses after a flood, but my two oldest children are going another week with friends.) This is the fifth winter we've done this, but it won't be the same. And I'm okay with change - most days. Some change show maturity and growth - in myself and my children. I need to let go some of my expectations and allow my children to grow and change.

This past year, my mother-in-law sold her house and moved to a nursing home. My parents moved out of their big farmhouse six years ago. And, of course, Ed's death brought a huge number of changes to our home. Aging and death bring change which carries a lot of grief.

If you are a long time reader here, you know that for years my family made doughnuts every winter. I don't know when this tradition started. My first memory of doughnut making was when I was a very small girl. As my brothers married, their wives joined the doughnut making tradition. Sometimes we'd make doughnuts on Fasnacht Day; sometimes we'd choose another day.

In 2016, my family made doughnuts at my mom's house, not realizing it would be the last time. (We even had a photographer from the local newspaper record the event. The next year, my parents would move out of the farm house. The day had gotten rather crazy anyway, with so many children, and maybe it was simply time to adjust this tradition. So Ed and I spend a Saturday making apple fritters at our house. I thought maybe that would be the start of a new tradition. But months later, Ed was diagnosed with brain cancer, and we never again made doughnuts. 

This winter, we were discussing doughnuts, and I realized that my two youngest girls didn't remember doughnut making at all. I shouldn't have been surprised. At that last doughnut making at my mom's house, my youngest daughter had only been a few weeks old. 

So I asked my mom if she would bring her fryer to my house to make doughnuts. I invited two of my sisters, and we had a fun doughnut day, seven years after our last one. 

Will this begin a new tradition with my daughters? I don't know. Maybe this will be a one-time event that my girls will look back to and say, "Remember that time we made doughnuts?" Maybe some day they will bring their children and say, "Every winter we go to mom's house and make doughnuts." 

What traditions have you had to change? Have you replaced it with new ones?

To read more on past doughnut days...
Mom's doughnut recipe - we have used the same recipe for over 30 years.
Apple fritter recipe - the new favorite
What happens when your memory fries on doughnut day


  1. I also have just a few cherished traditions and have to remind myself of the value of them for my children. I didn’t grow up in a Christian home, though it was a loving, stable one, so a book that a friend recommended early in my marriage was very helpful to me with regard to traditions and, in general, a Christ-centered family life. It’s still encouraging to me to re-read it these many years later. Maybe it would be a blessing to you too! Treasuring God in our Traditions by Noel Piper.

    1. Thanks for the book recommendation! I'll check it out.

  2. Many of our traditions changed with the passing of our mother. But I'm happy that my daughters and I still continue the tradition of making sand tarts each Christmas season. Enjoyed your pictures, thanks for sharing!

    1. I still have your mom's sand tart recipe too!

  3. I enjoy good traditions. You are very bless to have a good family! Thanks for the post


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