What are some of your family traditions?

What are some of your
family traditions?


Baptismal Gown

This tradition is not one that is of my doing, but truly a tradition for the whole family. My grandmother, Grace Caroline Thorogood Bellamy had a baptismal gown that she kept for when anyone in the family got baptized. The earliest proof of its use that still exists is of my Auntie Barbara’s baptism.

I suspect here brother and sisters were also baptized in it but no one who knows is still alive. It is possible that it was used in generations older than my mother’s. My grandma came from a family of three children. Her older sister died as a young woman and her brother never had children so it could have been left to her as the only surviving descendant. I suppose we will never know unless an old photo appears some time in the future.

The next time the gown surfaces is when my older sister, Carol Lynne was baptized. We have pictures of that. And we have pictures of me getting baptized in it. My sister Judy was not baptized in it because we were in England when it would have been done and my cousin Claire had also been born. You couldn’t let one of them wear it and the other be left out in the cold, so neither of them wore it. It has been used by countless people in the family ever since.

 Butch in the Thorogood baptismal gown

Dutch Rub

As the jokester dad/uncle/grandpa I would challenge the younger generations with a Dutch Rub or Noogie as it is sometimes called. I also used it as a symbol of deep affection for the little ones. When a new member of our family entered our lives I would gently and lovingly give them the lightest of rubs while saying something like, “Welcome to our family, Young Wyatt”.

Wyatt is welcomed to the family

Birthday Cakes

Ever since our children were very little, Karen and I would work together to make them a birthday cake. Karen made the first one for Lance . After that, she usually baked the cake and gave it the base coating of frosting. Then I would decorate it with a scene, usually one they asked me to make. This has been going on for 50 years. After our kids were married we continued to make cakes for our grandkids. Unfortunately, last year the tradition slipped due to the Covid pandemic. Let’s hope we can get it going again.

Birthday Cakes


Christmas Ornaments

Years ago the daughter of some good friends got married. While at the wedding, I had the pleasure to talk with our friends’ parents, the grandparents of the bride. Her grandmother told me that one of the gifts she brought was a collection of Christmas ornaments that she had purchased for the bride over the years. She bought each of her grandchildren an ornament labeled with their name and the year and kept them all at her own home to decorate her own tree. She planned to give each one this gift when they married or settled into their own home. I thought it was a charming idea and decided I would do the same when we had grandchildren.
I bought each child a small tub and kept their ornaments separate from other decorations.

Rachel and Ben, Lance’s kids, almost always were able to help me decorate our Christmas tree and add their special ornaments. Wyatt and Augie, Wendy’s boys, were here about half of the time to add theirs. After a while we made a photo book, kept in each tub, so I could remember which ornaments to look for when I was taking the tree down. I tried to buy ornaments that matched their interests or important events like horses and dogs for Rachel, Toy Story and Bob’s Burgers for Ben, Star Wars and video games for Wyatt, and skate boards and Pokémon for Augie. Lately I have made ornaments for them. I have had my doubts about their interest or appreciation of the collection especially by my three boys. Rachel is more apt to talk about the ones she likes best. This last Christmas, our Covid Christmas, was abnormal. We got together with Lance’s family for only an hour or so to open gifts. While Ben and Rachel put their ornaments on the tree, I heard both of them talking about their ornaments and both looked through their photo books. Later at a Zoom call with the Copleys I shared the Covid ornament with the boys.

Christmas Ornaments

 Christmas Ornaments

Birthday Cake


When I was a kid we didn’t have big birthday celebrations or parties. Birthdays were family affairs. Most times it was just my parents and siblings in attendance. The birthday cake of choice in my family was a recipe we called “Split-the-layer-cake.”

This was the fanciest cake my mother made and a big favorite with everyone. It was made from two layers of yellow cake which were each carefully split in half horizontally to form four thin layers. The filling/topping was a rich homemade chocolate pudding (absolutely no box mixes) spread between each layer then pored over the top. I don’t think my mom ever made it unless it was someone’s birthday.

Christmas Cookies

I love cookies. They are pretty much my favorite sweet treat. Who couldn’t appreciate the perfection of cookies? Just about the right size whether you want one or a handful, delightfully chewy or crunchy depending on the type, and filled with your favorite sweet ingredients! Our house in Cedar Rapids has often been the gathering place for my extended family and Butch’s too. For years many siblings and families traveled home to Iowa for Christmas. When they arrived I would have an assortment of everyone’s favorites. For Butch it is Snickerdoodles, my sister Sue likes Cherry Winks, Lance and sister Diane went for Roly Poly Balls. One type that had to be included were rolled, cut, and decorated sugar cookies. These were always a favorite of Wendy’s and the grandkids liked to join in the making and decorating process.

 Karen and Ben making Christmas cookies
 Cherry winks and sugar cookies

Christmas Stockings

Holidays are where traditions are born. Another Christmas tradition are stockings. We started with our own children. My sister Sue gave Lance and Wendy long knit Christmas stockings when they were toddlers. On Christmas morning the kids woke up to one big present that Santa brought, a Santa filled stocking with small toys and candy, and gifts from Mom and Dad. Santa continued to come as the kids became adults but he only filled their stockings. As time went on, we added stockings for Cherise, Lance’s wife, and Zach, Wendy’s husband. Now there are stockings for Rachel, Wyatt, Ben and Augie. In the house on Mansfield Avenue, we had a big fireplace with a big oak mantle and lots of hooks for stockings. When we moved to the house on Bever Circle we still had a fireplace but mid-century modern doesn’t run to big oak mantles. We had to put some hooks under the edge of the entry table to manage all those stockings. Problem solved. Santa is happy.

This post is part of the StoryWorth project that I am participating in.
At the ButchieBoy main page click the “StoryWorth” category to see the rest of the entries.

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