I was once told by a wise friend that we should take every opportunity that comes our way to celebrate.  It could be taking pride in our local holidays like ANZAC Day or Waitangi Day and doing something special to mark the day.   Or you could even steal holidays from other cultures like Thanksgiving and Pancake Day.  Then of course there are the old favourites:  Christmas and New Year – who doesn’t like to celebrate these?

My friend said it was important to punctuate the year with memorable events so that by the time New Year rolls around you can look back on the year and remember it fondly, rather than seeing a blur of busyness that went by too fast.

In the garden we are ruled by seasons and things are always changing so it is easy to create memories and traditions that can be celebrated as the months go by.  Take the time to set up an activity in the garden once a month for the family to do, and you can create lasting memories to be cherished in the future.

I have a wonderful memory of shelling peas with my Grandfather on Christmas morning.  There were a lot of grandchildren, but that Christmas it was just the two of us and I still remember it well, all these years later.  So now I ensure there are peas in my garden every Christmas so my kids can sit with me and shell peas, although it can compete with the desire to play with shiny new toys.

Getting kids to help you in the garden, and not just to weed and water, but to get excited about each stage in the gardening calendar; sowing the seeds, planting the seedlings in the garden, the first flower, the first fruit, the last fruit¸ the autumn leaves, the first frost; can be a great way to connect kids with the seasons and help them to create amazing memories of time spent celebrating their way through the year.

Christmas gardeningThe first strawberry should be proudly displayed for all to see and then with great fanfare divided equally among all members of the family.  Embrace the “it’s not fair, her 5th is bigger than mine” but come up with a unique way of allocating the portions.  Turn it into an annual First Strawberry Family Festival and it will become a point on the calendar that will be eagerly anticipated each year as eagle eyed kids watch that first green strawberry turn to a rosy shade of red.  Then repeat the celebration a couple of months on with the Festival of the First Tomato to celebrate the summer.

Go out of your way to make it more than just helping to dig up the potatoes – turn it into a treasure hunt looking for buried treasure. Even the mundane can be cause to celebrate if you have a willing spirit.

Kids grow too fast, but you can slow it down by creating opportunities to stop and have a party because the carrots are ready to pull up or the beans have reached the top of the bean pole.  Look for the joy in every day and you will find plenty of reasons to celebrate.

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Sarah O’Neil lives on a small 3 acre lifestyle block. The family moved from the big city to the country in 2007. Sarah has published 3 books, including The Good Life, four glorious seasons in my country garden. She's also an award-winning blogger, winning a Yates Vegie Growing Challenge and still writes regularly. Visit Sarah’s website at sarahthegardener.co.nz.

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