By Lisa Cossey, MSW, Courier & Press, June 14, 2016 –
With the Fourth of July around the corner, it is nice to look forward to time with family and friends and participate in ongoing family traditions.
A family tradition is something that is recreated, year after year. Every July Fourth, my family hosts a party filled with food, games and fireworks.
Each year at Halloween, my husband’s family gathers and spends an evening going to haunted houses. Perhaps it is not a typical family tradition, but it is one their family looks forward to and has enjoyed for years. One of my good friends and her family observe the less frightful tradition of camping on Halloween weekend each year.
Another tradition in my own family that I look forward to is gathering in my mother’s kitchen to bake pies and other desserts for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. A good time is always had by all, and now that my own children are getting older, they are involved in the baking as well.
Families which share in their own traditions provide a sense of comfort and security, especially for the children involved. Children love routine and consistency, something a family tradition provides year after year. It also helps children manage any losses or changes in the year and gives them something to look forward to.
In addition, family traditions enhance family and personal well-being and can also add to the family identity. Strong family bonds are created and reinforced with traditions that are upheld and maintained.
As children grow and mature, traditions can also be altered to accommodate the family’s needs. For example, perhaps a family with young children has a tradition of singing Christmas carols around their Christmas tree. As the children age, the tradition could evolve into caroling around their neighborhood.
Family traditions don’t have to be formal, fancy or costly. They don’t even have to revolve around the holidays. You can share in a family tradition any day or time of the year.
If baking together for the holidays is not your favorite activity, perhaps your family would enjoy taking a walk every Christmas morning or exchanging “white elephant” gifts during your celebrations. Traditions are what you choose to make them.
Other ideas to create family traditions include:
- Reading a book aloud, such as “The Night Before Christmas,” before opening Christmas gifts
- Having a weekly or monthly family movie night
- Holding a yearly family talent show
- Creating crafts together
- Making candy, baking or preparing meals together
- Taking an annual vacation or family camping trip
- Having your own family sporting tournament, with a traveling trophy to be awarded to the winning family each year
No matter what your family’s traditions are or what your family chooses to create, just having something for all family members to look forward to each year is important. Traditions help create warm, positive memories that can be recalled fondly and draw family members back to one another year after year.