Heirlooms...traditions...customs. That stuff all feels a little outdated these days, like it’s just moldy old boxes of faded cards, gathering dust in the attic - or force-feeding lame activities on unwilling participants, “Just Because,” we’ve always done it that way.
Your Great Aunt Matilda always loved that dessert. Eat it!
It feels like mom staying up all night, while the rest of the family snoozes away - wrapping extra presents, baking traditional cookies, staging fictional elves in wildly engineered festivity. It often feels like eyes glazing over the next day and taking it all for granted - or worse? Resenting it.
And in the age of Marie Kondo and the rapidly diminishing living space that brought her ideas to the forefront of Western and global culture, some of our old traditions seem wasteful or over-the-top for all the wrong reasons.
So what do we do? Traditional nostalgia is horrible then, right? Do we burn it all down? Be done with all traditional thinking and never look back?
But I want my family to look back at our life together with warm memories, and I want them to have something magical to bring to their own adult lives to share the values and warmth we created together. I want something to last - something to feel real.
Maybe the issue isn’t in the idea of tradition or the act of passing on or keeping heirlooms, at all.
Maybe it’s in how we choose what to do, and how we talk about or behave around building those traditions and heirlooms into our family lives, where we need to pay attention.
Perhaps a little critical thinking and creativity can take that musty old box of unwanted stuff - and turn it into something special. Something magical.
So, let’s start thinking critically...and creatively. Shall we?
Family traditions do not - and should not - rest all on your shoulders, Mom.
You don’t need to create enormous and elaborate events, and then rope your future self into recreating them at 3:00 AM while Johnny and Sally sleep blissfully.
Traditions aren’t powerful because they’re hard!
They are powerful because of what they say to us. They are a signal that we’re consistent and a reminder that we are loved. Their specialness shows up in the emotional connection of the message and the consistency of the action.
They are magical because a tiny, easy thing can hold so much more meaning when it’s repeated with love. Not because they are elaborate, astonishing, or popular on Pinterest.
Create a tradition that anyone in your family can reciprocate - without buying anything new or staying up all night. Make it accessible, make it imperfect, and make it everyone’s. And go to bed!
Sharing heirlooms is actually super minimalist.
One of the things I love about the whole, “Does it spark joy?” thing, is that it’s a question directly aligned with how I feel about Little Girls’ Pearls and the world we are creating here.
Fun is a good enough reason for doing things, though we have become just a little obsessed with utility and productivity. Joy is an amazing reason to do or keep or give something! What other feeling would you want your modern heirloom to provoke? Stress? Obligation?
No. Creating a tradition or choosing an heirloom for your family should be all about the joy and love in the thing you, no matter how simple.
Your family heirlooms should not be an obligation; they should be a token - concrete representations of the joy you want your loved ones to hold in their hearts and share forever.
So yeah! They should spark joy, and that is all about how you choose them and share them: the stories you wrap up in their special box with them, and the preciousness of the items inside.
I’ve seen the advice to give experiences instead of toys and to avoid trinkets and chotchkies that’ll fill up the ultra-valuable and scarce shelf space in so-and-so’s minimalist nursery. And I get it! I love that clean aesthetic, and I value the principle of it. Who wants clutter that just takes up space?
What about something simple? Just the tiniest thing that reminds everyone they are loved. Something easy, something repeatable.
- A quick tea party on the first sunny spring day.
- Waking up to a simple birthday banner on the wall.
- Hot chocolate in one of mom's mugs on the first day of school.
The bedrock of the whole LGP World is the idea that each piece we create - and each little sweetie who receives one - is special. We want to share the value of that one precious thing, that holds all of the magic inside it.
It’s why every piece of packaging we choose and every charm we create or source is guided by that principle of value and worth. It’s gotta be worth the shelf space, and it has to hold space for all of the love and specialness you feel.
Traditions and Heirlooms - and the joy and love they contain - are all about one thing: Your Family Story.
Choose the traditions you maintain and the heirlooms you pass on or introduce to your family with this final question: how does this tell our family story?
Look at the books you read again and again (Hello there, Narnia). What about the stories you recite with your loved ones on special occasions? Which storybook does every little darling need on her nursery shelf?
There is a theme or a feeling in your favorite stories that is a piece of who you are - something that tells a truth that resonates deeply within you. And that thing is what well-chosen traditions can give to your family.
My husband texts me a picture of beautiful flowers whenever he is thinking of me.
It started out of one of those, “Stop spending money on something that is just going to die anyway” comments, and has turned into a beautiful tradition of ours, over the years. It’s simple and easy, but it tells the piece of our story that is the most precious to me.
He wants me to feel loved and cherished, and to be surrounded by beauty and life. He wants me to know his love is real and constant.
And every time I look at any flower now, our story is there. Every time I add a new photo to that folder on my phone, I feel cherished and loved and am surrounded by the beauty of our story.
Every time you send a new charm to your sweetie, a cherished storybook to a new mom, or a pearl necklace to your own mother as thanks for the wisdom she’s given to you - it becomes a piece of her story and yours. And that is something she can pass on to someone else without any obligation or guilt or musty old boxes. It’s magic.
Your family heirlooms and traditions are as modern and exciting as you make them.
And they hold more potential for magic and love in them than any stack of toy boxes or even a perfectly aesthetic gallery wall (although that is pretty amazing too).
With every book you pass on, every sparkly jewel she unwraps, and every memory of holidays and milestones and special moments you can hold in your hand and heart - you’re adding a little bit of magic to her childhood.
That’s not old or boring, my friend; it’s exciting and new! It holds the beauty and promise of the future, wrapped up in the warmth and joy of childhood. It tells the story of all of the love and joy you can remember and the hope for even more to come.
I think that it’s worth that spot on the shelf, don’t you?
What story do you want to tell with your family traditions? And how do you do it?! Share with me on Instagram at #LGPTraditions or comment below!
I love this stuff! It makes my heart happy.