The New Book of Family Traditions: How to Create Great Rituals for Holidays and Every Day
by Meg Cox
Running Press, softcover, $16.00
Here’s the thing about who we are as quilters and sewists and crafters: It’s really not about us.
That’s right. When we set out to make something, yes, we love being creative. But at the end of the process, our creativity is usually given as a gift to someone we care for or love. Or it’s used in our homes, to share with our immediate family and friends. The fruits of our creativity unite our families and welcome our friends into the embrace of our efforts. We create because we want to reach out and fold in to our hearts those whom we love, admire, care for and nurture.
You know what else does exactly this? Traditions and rituals.
Traditions and rituals are repeating gifts given to those around us. We mark the passage of our lives by events and by the ways we use to celebrate, memorialize and acknowledge these milestones. I’d go so far as to say that a family that regularly employs traditions and rituals to outline their lives is really making a quilt of sorts, not from fabric, thread and needles, but instead with joy, reverence and love.
So can you tell that I’m a little biased about this wonderful book we’re showing off today? Yes, Meg Cox is a dear, dear friend of ours and she’s been supporting what we do here as journalists and quilters for many years, even before the arrival of GenQ. But she’s more than that. Meg is a hardcore journo herself, a writer and editor who uses facts and other people’s experiences to paint a picture of how we live. And that’s what her revised edition of The Book of New Family Traditions does.
The first version was published in 2003. Since then, Meg has maintained a regular newsletter where she gathered ideas and suggestions from many other families about what their traditions are. She soon realized that, while her first edition wasn’t aging itself out of usefulness, there were many more ideas that could be of value to her readers. So she got back to work and revised her original book to include oh so much more.
And Meg, being the quilter and the daughter of a quilter that she is, didn’t ignore our fabric obsession. She includes 15 craft projects between her covers, including the Christmas Quilt that we picture here.
This wonderful idea came to her from her son’s babysitter when he was a toddler. (He’s investigating colleges now, if you’re wondering how long ago that was.) She gave Meg 20 squares of muslin and two bottles of paint and told Meg to have Max decorate a square each year at Christmas. When Meg had 15 squares done, she made them into a simple quilt that’s displayed every Christmas in her New Jersey home. Surely we can do something similar with our kids each year, people?
We’re not just into New Family Traditions for the quilt, though it certainly didn’t hurt. This book is really about taking the time out of our busyness to create moments of reflection and joy for what we experience. Yes, some of these rituals take time and work, but what’s life about if we don’t do these things for ourselves and our families?
What’s really cool about Meg’s revised book is that she’s covered so many different events that can have traditions created from them. You can follow them by rote, or she encourages you to just be inspired and go forth creating your own version. And as so many of us are sleep-deprived, getting the jump start is very much appreciated.
Meg divides her rituals under daily, family or holiday headings. It’s easy to find something that applies to almost anything and her ideas are offered in a manner than can be adapted for our culture’s varied religious and personal beliefs. These are not acts of statement. These are experiences of unity and recognition.
Oh, and in case Meg’s name isn’t already familiar to you, you need to know that when Melissa started working in the quilt world after spending years in the sewing and embroidery worlds, Jake sent a couple of books to her for research and reference, a crash course on quilting in a way. Meg’s other book, The Quilter’s Catalog: A Comprehensive Resource Guide, was one of those books.
Now, because we LOVE you all Q-bies, and because Meg is one of us, she’s offering one of her copies of New Family Traditions for one of you. What we need you to do is share with us one of YOUR family traditions or rituals in the comment section below. When you do, make sure you give us your email address because we’ve been getting a few winners lately that we can’t track down. We’ll pick at random on Friday and announce then when we talk about something else that Meg’s doing in our little corner of the q-niverse. Your tradition does NOT have to be fabric-related, but if it is, that’s a plus for sure.
Enjoy your Monday, folks!