Photo: Lora Heller family photo

We have a lovely view through our children’s bedroom window of the buildings all around ours and a fraction of the George Washington Bridge. We can pretty much only see that little bit of it at night when it’s lit up. But each night, from the time our older son was about 18 months until our younger son was around three years, saying goodnight to the bridge was an important part of our bedtime routine. Grandma and Grandpa lived on the other side of the bridge and it was a special connection.

Most kids thrive on routine and ours were no exception. It was so fun to see how our older son helped our younger one adopt our routines and to watch them both make little changes of their own along the way. My sister-in-law had a PJ Thanksgiving one year when all her kids were sick—instead of missing out on the holiday, everyone just came in their PJs—now they do it every year (even healthy!). We’ve joined them in PJs and it’s fun to see all the festive footies or flannels! As the family as grown, so have the memories.

Many years of our Chanukkah celebrations included our close friends we met when our older son started nursery school. They weren’t a Jewish family but attended a temple-based nursery and loved learning about different cultures. The celebrations always continued at their home decorating the Christmas tree. We often spent Halloween together too and they loved having another chance to parade in costume with us at Purim. The traditions always gave us something to do, but it’s the friends and family who helped make the memories.

Last year was the first year our older son was away at college and we knew he would spend much of his vacation out with friends. To preserve some family time, we made special plans to enjoy our city together. We went to a concert, saw a play, had dinner and at our favorite restaurants, watched reruns on TV…we did some brand-new things and some old favorites, reliving old memories and creating new ones. And we have school breaks to look forward to for the next few years.

I miss the days of saying good night to the bridge, the days when our kids were excited to see what was in each little wrapped package, the days of costumes and lullabies. But new traditions are good too—each year, we look forward to making holiday memories.