Traditions and the Family
Some of the previous generations did a better job than we do with building family traditions. As I have mentioned before, when extended families get together for a holiday, much of the conversation is centered around family traditions and family stories.
Families tell many of the same stories year after year at these gatherings, because traditions help create family togetherness.
Planning and prioritizing make play and traditions happen. If you wait to have traditions just appear, they simply won’t happen. You have to create them. Here are some ideas that you may want to begin in your family:
Family fun nights. These are monthly times when the family comes together to have fun. You can do the old standbys (movies, dinner or picnics), or you can be more creative and make up your own traditions and family fun.
One-on-one times. In our home, we called these “dates.” These were the times when Rebecca and I go out for Mexican food or Christy and I would take in a play or Heidi would take me surfing. I found that some of my most fruitful conversations with the girls happened during our monthly one-on-one times.
Service projects or mission trips. Many families draw closer together and get strength from serving together. Our church sponsors family mission trips to Mexico and Ecuador—and families come back glowing. Serving together can be just the experience to develop an even stronger family bond. Our family regularly visited a local rest home and a women’s shelter. These trips were worth the energy and effort.
Holiday traditions. Holidays can be stressful, but if you build in special family events that become traditions, you will develop lifelong, positive memories. Fifteen years ago, we noticed that a few people from our church had nowhere to go on Christmas Eve, so we spontaneously invited them to our home after the Christmas Eve service. On the way home, I called a Chinese restaurant and ordered takeout. Every year since then, we have people over on Christmas Eve and we always order Chinese takeout. We asked our girls one year if we should change what we eat. They were insulted!
Vacations and adventures. You don’t have to be rich to create great family vacations and adventures. Our kids knew that every Easter vacation we would go to the beach, just like they knew that each child got to choose a family adventure when they graduated from high school.