Most families that I know have their own, unique family traditions. Some families don’t even realize that the things they do over and over during specific times of the year, or to celebrate holidays and other memorable days, qualify as a tradition. Starting a family tradition is easy, and your children will appreciate it . . . as well as hand it down to their children.
We have a tradition in our family that my mom has been doing since she was a kid. On Christmas Eve, all of us (from grandparents to great grandchildren) all get together for dinner at one of our houses. After dinner the kids all sit down and sing so that Santa can find our home. Santa (usually one of the oldest male cousins) then comes in with presents (that we all provide for our own children) and hands them out. It is something that my siblings and cousins did every year when we were kids and now enjoy seeing the excitement on our own children’s faces.
Why start traditions? According to family therapist Laura Doerflinger, M.S., LMHC, of Kirkland, Washington: “It’s important to create rituals and make family time together a priority. These activities aren’t just for fun. They work to keep the family bonded during crucial developmental stages in kids’ lives” Holiday traditions are important as well. She goes on to say it helps to give: “each family its own unique identity, based on family history, heritage, and religion.”
That all makes sense, right? But how do you do it?Ã‚Â Start with what your family identifies with most. What are your interests and hobbies? What things do you enjoy doing together? If you are an outdoors-kind-of family, plan an annual rafting or camping trip. Enjoy music and singing? Plan an annual holiday caroling throughout your neighborhood. Passionate about food? Prepare an annual family cookbook full of recipes (and personal notes) about dishes you have created or re-vamped throughout the year.
Birthday traditions are easy to start. Find something fun that your children enjoy, and then do it for every family member’s birthday. When we were children, my mom allowed each of us to pick whatever we wanted for dinner and she would make it on our special day. The meal was served to us on a special plate that only was used on birthdays. I’m still looking for that special plate for my children!
Family date nights are also a great tradition to start. Once a week, plan to do something for fun as a family. Let the kids pick the menu, do the cooking as a family, and then take turns choosing board games for the night.
There are so many fun, easy ideas that you can use to start traditions. What are the traditions in your family?