Starting a Family Tradition

There are as many unique family traditions as there are families. Every family finds different interests to bond around, whether it be celebrating holidays together, going on a yearly camping trip, or having Thursday-night dinners at the dinner table. Whatever your family is like it is important to develop strong traditions that you can share over the years. Traditions have many benefits, including strengthening the family bond, providing a sense of identity, teaching values, creating a sense of rhythm in otherwise chaotic lives, and creating lasting memories.

Family traditions occur on various levels, and change throughout the life of a family. There are daily, weekly, seasonal and yearly traditions. There are also milestone traditions associated with the first day of school, new houses, graduation, and marriage. Some traditions that are great when your children are young may have to be adapted as they grow. As an example, putting your toddler to bed may be a nightly tradition that is great for the first decade of life, but most teenagers are able to perform their own, private nightly rituals, and will be looking for a different way to connect with their parents and siblings. Similarly, there may be traditions that continue over the years, but family members need time to grow into them, such as sharing a glass of wine over holiday dinner.

Some great ideas for traditions revolve around food. Creating a certain meal to mark the beginning of the school year or to celebrate holidays is easy to carry on and something that everyone can engage in. As an example, you might want to invest in a fruit press and spend time each season making fresh juice with your family. This can be as simple as picking up a bag of fresh oranges from the market to press together, or as involved as loading the family into the car, driving to an orchard, and picking your own fruits to press. Either way your family would always remember enjoying various, tasty juices, and learn core values about nutrition and their relationship to food. Another example to try is making an ethnic meal once a month. Again, this can be as simple as ordering take-out, or as complex as growing the ingredients and making your own specialty dishes. The family will bond while cooking and also learn to value other cultures. As children in your family grow up this could be integrated with a right-of-passage tradition involving a trip to a foreign country.

There is no wrong way to start a family tradition. You simply find something that is important to you and your family, and begin doing it on a regular basis. Whatever activities you choose, your family will surely benefit from the additional time and energy spent creating memories together.

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