Family traditions allow us to transcend time because they invite us to breathe new life into personal memories and family stories.

Most of us tag favorite memories with happy associations of celebrations, holidays and vacations. Like dots on a timeline or crumbs on a trail, we can remember who and what matters and then consider what we’d like to carry into the future. When it comes to family traditions, I recommend smorgasbord thinking: Take what you like and leave the rest.

Some families are chock full of traditions passed through the generations while others struggle with what, if anything, to preserve. Whether or not you’ve continued a long-standing tradition, it’s never too late to revive or create one. Even the most celebrated and historical traditions started somewhere by someone at some moment in time. You can be that person who starts a family tradition today.

I marvel at how many of our traditions have crossed over from one family to another as they make their way down the branches of interlocking family trees. Just like ideas, nobody owns traditions. Instead, these slices of love make up a ‘bank of good karma’ from which we can all beg, borrow and steal.

One of my most celebrated recipes, Grandma D’s Apple Pie, came from my sister-in-law’s mother who was raised in Vermont. The distinguishing part of our Day After Thanksgiving (DAT) sandwich is the middle slice of bread dipped in gravy called “Moisture maker” borrowed from the character, Ross, on the popular sitcom, Friends.

It’s really not what we do, but rather how we do it… together with love. We all count on reminders that are familiar and sweet. It could be the smell of that apple pie, the sight of dad packing a lunch for a fishing trip or the sound of a clock striking midnight as our cue to unwrap gifts on Christmas Eve.

When I think of family traditions, I envision an endless stream of open minds, hearts and tables connecting generations of loved ones who rely on repetition, people, places and things we know and love, to remind us that we’re part of something big… much bigger than ourselves.