The special things we look forward to as a family and the everyday routines we abide by such as the time we get up, the foods we have for breakfast, the things we do on the weekends, and the activities we are involved in during the week are the threads of life that bind us together as a family.
Melinda Hill, Extension Agent, says a strong family has a commitment to one another and keeps increasing in strength because of the time they spend together. The way we “do” things becomes our family traditions. You won’t find them written down anywhere, but if you ask one of the family members a question concerning a particular event, they will tell you “we always …”
When the kids were little we would pile into the car and drive around looking at Christmas lights. We chose this time to deliver gifts of cookies, or wine to friends of ours. If our friends weren’t home they missed out. This became a family tradition.
On a Saturday when we’re not all going different directions, we like to make breakfast burritos and sit out on the deck. It seems like a lot of our family traditions center around food!
On road trips we listen to the Bare Naked Ladies or Abba, loudly, and we sing along. When the kids were really little we listened to the Adventures in Odyssey series (Focus on the Family). Every once in a while, just for grins, we’ll pull off the highway and run silly circles around the car.
William Doherty, Director of Marriage and Family Therapy at the University of Minnesota addresses the importance of family traditions or rituals in his book, The Intentional Family: How to Build Family Ties in Our Modern World.
He gives the main reasons family should develop rituals or traditions:
- It makes family life predictable.
- It gives family a chance to reconnect.
- Family rituals teach children what the family values.
Hall says says there are 3 different types of traditions:
- Celebration Traditions (holidays, birthdays, etc)
- Family Traditions (special things which fit your family’s lifestyle i.e. pizza, vacations, etc)
- Patterned Family Interactions (bedtime, Sunday afternoons, etc.)
Here is my list to get you thinking about family traditions:
Games on popcorn on Saturday night
Saying “I Love You” before going to sleep
Having a “tailgater” before the ballgame
Serving a meal like chili or dumplings before a certain event
Acting out the Christmas story from Luke 2 using real people or figures from the crèche.
Dancing to a favorite Neil Diamond song
Opening one gift on Christmas Eve
Having an event such as the Bolder Boulder that you all do together
What traditions does your family have?