You know that the dynamics of your family are changing when your adult children initiate family activities and plan new and meaningful family traditions.

This year our oldest son and his family will host the Thanksgiving dinner again. What a treat! The family favorites will be on the menu: sweet potato souffle, fried turkey and dressing, macaroni and cheese, and a crock full of collard greens! I will probably take a red velvet cake, a Southern favorite, as one of the desserts. This is a big undertaking to gather all 17 of us to sit down for a great meal sprinkled with “remember when” family stories over crackles of laughter.

We will end the evening preparing for another tradition, a Christmas gift exchange. This family gift exchange works well for our ever-growing family now spread among four states. We write our name and two or three gift ideas on a piece of paper, place it in a bag, and then we each pull one name out. The secret of whose name you pulled is revealed on Christmas. It is really fun, not to mention cost effective for young families.

The following day we will gather to take a professional family portrait. This will be the first time that all of us and our soon-to-be son-in-law will be together for a photo. What a special memory-maker. This great idea by the children requires a lot of choreography … babies, wiggly children, and anxious men ready to settle down to watch the marathon of football games. However, the treasure, the treat, of having a family portrait will overshadow the process.