Most happy families have traditions. Why? They provide security, bonding, sense of identity, teach values, provide structure, pass on heritage, connect generations, and create lasting memories which are important to creating a sense of happiness and well-being. How to start if you don’t already have traditions in your family?
Daily? Some ideas are family dinner, bedtime routines, but be intentional about your connections or soon you will just be watching TV together. Secret handshake? A game in the car traveling to and from school? A prayer, evening walk, bed time story? My father put me to bed most nights with a little ritual. He would have me get into bed, prone on the mattress, face into my pillow. He would quietly sing me a song called “Bye – oh, Bye- oh” and he would sing it over and over while gently patting my back. At one point, he would surprise me and sing really loud and then push me up and down on the mattress until my body flung all around (and of course I shrieked) and then he would return to the gentle pats and soft singing. I knew it was then time to go to sleep.
Weekly? Traditions could be a special family dinner or a game night. In my family growing up it was a big pot of chili and cinnamon rolls on Friday night. Now, we have homemade pizza most Fridays. Don’t fret if it doesn’t happen every week just as regularly as possible (once or twice a month is manageable). On Sunday, I suggest the evening meal is leftovers and everyone on their own. That gives the parental units a break from cooking, uses up the leftovers, and kids learn independence.
Over a Life Time? These are life changes like what do you do on birthdays? graduations? first day of school? In our family, we always take pictures at our life events. My girls have a tradition of having a photograph made every seven years of just the three of them. We hang the pictures in our family photo gallery in our home. Different cultures have traditions unique to the community. It is so educational to ask about family and cultural traditions with friends and work mates. These conversations may give you new ideas to consider adding to your family traditions as well.
Tradition is a living thing, always moving forward. Tradition is alive and full of energy. Some people think of tradition as something fixed and unchanging. Like you always must have Thanksgiving dinner at Aunt Bella’s. Enjoy traditions but let them ebb and flow over time as natural as the path of a river. It is never too late to start a new tradition.