What are traditions?
Traditions are activities you do over and over again, at the same time of month or year, or centered around certain repetitive events. A tradition can be as simple as saying Grace before dinner, giving a special handshake with your teammates before each game, taking an evening walk after dinner each night with your family, reading a bedtime story to your child each night in a special place, and even cooking a certain food or meal for a holiday or birthday celebration. Most often, traditions create a special expectation and feeling that accompanies the gesture and creates a lasting memory that is repeated over the years. An example of a tradition in my family is that I make a special themed cake for each of my children on their birthdays. This is a tradition that my mother began and which I’ve continued today.
Why traditions are important.
Building traditions with family and friends is important for a number of reasons:
- They strengthen the core of your family unity.
- They remind and honor your family’s traditions of past generations.
- They provide stability in times of instability, bringing a sense of security and comfort in times of stress, change or sadness.
- They provide an identity or sense of belonging to a group, giving one a feeling of connection among those who share the same tradition with you (i.e. your teammates wearing special socks on the night of “the big game” or a family dressing up in matching t-shirts each year for a holiday gathering.)
- They elicit excitement and anticipation of the upcoming expected events.
- They awaken buried memories of people, stories, and traditions past, while also build new memories of tradition being created
The beauty of continuing a tradition of the past, recent or old, is that you can decide how to carry on the tradition. Will you keep it the same or add your own touch to it? Or will you let it go, replacing it with a completely new one?
Traditions shouldn’t be forced nor should they feel like a chore. If you find this to be the case, consider finding different ways to create new memories that can hold meaning and significance. Not everyone will respond the same way, appreciate the intention you have, nor hold a memory of it with the same feeling or experience. Don’t be disappointed if your well thought out and well intended holiday meal comprised of all of gramma’s favorite dishes is as well received as you’d thought it would. For example, build on this tradition by taking the dishes that were enjoyed and make them again, year after year thereby building a new tradition. And remember again, traditions aren’t only built around food, holidays, and special events.
If you are struggling with coming up with ideas of what you can do with your family that might start a tradition, consider starting small, with a weekly or monthly activity or meal first. Try taking a nightly walk before bed, having a ‘Sunday board game night’, planting a new tree in your yard every year, or having a favorite meal the same day each week.
In future posts, I’ll be sharing more about easy and fun ways to build family traditions that can create lasting and loving memories for years to come.