By Erin Long, contributing writer
When we think of family traditions the first things that might come to mind are bright lights on the tree and a special breakfast on Christmas morning. Or how it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving if your grandma didn’t make her signature casserole or your dad didn’t make his signature corny jokes. Or maybe it’s that extra-special something you do for your kids on their birthdays.
I love all the special things my family does to make holidays extraordinary. They remind me of what and why we’re celebrating. They give me a sense of comfort as I go through the familiar rhythms with my people. I feel closest to them when we’re carrying out our traditions.
Traditions bind families together and create lasting memories, so why limit traditions to a few days a year?
Each family has a unique history, their own story they’re writing, a dynamic all their own. And I think that should be celebrated.
Ever since my husband and I started our own new family nine years ago, our story has been characterized by international moves and young children. So we celebrate that.
- We celebrate January 9th, the day we moved to Hungary, with a picnic spread we often had there.
- On July 1st we have poutine to honour Canada Day and our son who was born while we lived there.
- We eat ajvar and white crusty bread on September 11th to remember the day we moved to Macedonia.
- When we drive out of town we duck our heads as we drive under the overpass while our two older kids giggle hysterically in the backseat.
- We go camping every summer.
- Friday night is family movie night.
- We have an elaborate goodnight kiss routine with the kids.
- Last week I started a new tradition of taking our kids out for hot chocolate after their first day of school.
Some of these celebrate big, life changing events, others are ordinary and everyday. Both these big and small traditions bring our family together.
When we look back on and remember the events that shaped our family it helps us to remember who we were, who we are, and who we want to become. That’s what traditions do; they tie our present to our past and go with us joyfully into the future.
So, figure out which big events define your family.
Maybe it’s the day you moved into your forever home, or you got your dream job, or when grandma was declared cancer-free, or when your daughter achieved a goal she worked hard for.
Whatever the major landmarks are for your family, remember them and celebrate them.
And find small ways to bring the rhythm of tradition to your everyday life.
Make the same or similar annual trip, keep inside jokes alive, go for a walk in the evening, have a game night, or make family dinners special.
Do what your family loves and enjoys together and do it often enough that it becomes your very own family ritual.
It’s all too easy for everyone to get wrapped up in their own crazy schedule and to just blow through life without stopping to remember the events that shaped them or to truly connect with others in a meaningful way. This gets especially difficult as kids get older.
Finding ways to celebrate family traditions can create a liturgy unique to your family that circles everyone back together and strengthens bonds that will one day withstand the test of time and distance.