Thursday, October 23, 2008

Building Meaningful Family Traditions

What is a tradition?
tradition Unabridged (v 1.1) - Cite This Source - Share This
tra·di·tion /trəˈdɪʃ ən/ [truh-dish-uh n] –noun
1. the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, esp. by word of mouth or by practice: a story that has come down to us by popular tradition.
2. something that is handed down: the traditions of the Eskimos.
3. a long-established or inherited way of thinking or acting: The rebellious students wanted to break with tradition.
4. a continuing pattern of culture beliefs or practices.
5. a customary or characteristic method or manner: The winner took a victory lap in the usual track tradition.
6. Theology.
a. (among Jews) body of laws and doctrines, or any one of them, held to have been received from Moses and originally handed down orally from generation to generation.
b. (among Christians) a body of teachings, or any one of them, held to have been delivered by Christ and His apostles but not originally committed to writing.
7. Law. an act of handing over something to another, esp. in a formal legal manner; delivery; transfer.

[Origin: 1350–1400; ME tradicion < OF < L trāditiōn- (s. of trāditiō) a handing over or down, transfer, equiv. to trādit(us), ptp. of trādere to give over, impart, surrender, betray (trā-, var. of trāns- + -ditus, comb. form of datus given; see ) + -iōn- ]

What are Family Traditions?
A family tradition can be handed down from generation to generation, or a newly created practice. All that really matters is that the practice of your tradition creates positive feelings and is repeated at regular intervals.

The Value of Family Traditions
Why have Family Traditions at all? These practices and beliefs cultivate a connection, feelings of warmth and closeness between immediate family members and between generations. By spending time together in a fun and special setting, family members grow closer.
An effective tradition promotes a sense of unity, a family or group identity and a feeling of belonging. As a result of the predictability of the tradition, they can also aid in creating a feeling of safety and security within the family.

“Regular participation in meaningful traditions helps families overcome an inclination toward what family scholars call "entropy." In the physical sciences, entropy is the tendency of a physical system to lose energy and coherence over time, such as a gas dissipating until it's all but gone. As Doherty explains, an "entropic family" is one that loses its sense of emotional closeness because members neglect the family's inner life and community ties.” – Forever Families.

The Practical side of Traditions
*Aim for a moderate number of traditions.
*Establish new traditions.
*Make sure you have spiritual traditions.
*From time to time, evaluate your traditions. To make sure your traditions are working for your family, it's a good idea for families occasionally to identify and evaluate traditions they already have and make plans to add new ones.

Common Family Traditions adapted from
*For birthdays, each family member chooses his or her favorite menu, then everyone except the birthday person helps prepare the meal.
*For religious or historical figures the family especially admires, celebrate that person's birthday. *Saturdays are Dad's day to make breakfast with the kids.
*Take turns choosing a topic of discussion at the dinner table.
*Have a special dinner plate to be used by a family member who has a reason to celebrate.
*Tell a story every night before bed.
*Keep a family journal, letting everyone write in it.
*Establish your own holidays, such as an "Unbirthday Party."
*Watch movies that explore the value of traditions, such as "Fiddler on the Roof."

For Thanksgiving
*Help serve food at a homeless shelter or invite those without families of their own to dinner.
*Place five candies on each dinner plate, then for every piece of candy have each person at the table say one thing they are thankful for.

Christmas/Hanukkah Traditions
*Have each member of the family draw a name of another member and make a handmade gift for that person.
*Collect or make one ornament each year that has special meaning to the family.
*Have the children write letters to Santa and place them in their stockings. Write letters in reply from Santa commending each child for his or her good behavior that year.
*As a family, make gingerbread houses, candy trains, or ornaments.
*As a family, put up Christmas/Hanukkah decorations, decorate the tree or light the menorah as a family, making it an event with music and good food.
*Visit neighbors singing the songs of the season, and give a small gift to the people you visit.
*Enjoy time playing dreidels and eating latkes and other traditional festivities of the Hanukkah season.
*Drive around the neighborhood looking at lights and listening to Christmas music.
*Collect Christmas stories and read them to small children.
*Each year, add a special emblem to stockings signifying an important event from that year.
*Give the Lord the gift of a personal improvement goal for next year. Write it on a piece of paper, place it in the manger, read it next Christmas or Hanukkah, and evaluate progress.

New Year's Traditions
*Go winter camping. Make a fire and share stories and memories from the past year.
*Leave shoes outside for the baby New Year to fill with candy and small toys.
*Re-hang your stockings for a refill.
*Set resolutions for the family as a whole.

Valentine's Day Traditions
*Draw names for secret pals the week before Valentine's Day. Perform small acts of service and kindness for that person, then reveal your identities on Valentine's Day.
*Make heart-shaped cookies and give them to those in your neighborhood or congregation who are alone.
*Have a red dinner with red jello, red mashed potatoes, beets, cherry cake, etc.
*Call relatives and tell them you love them.

Easter Traditions
*Visit the graves of family members early in the morning and talk about Jesus Christ's resurrection.
*Dye Easter eggs together.

My family has created many traditions over the years, some work, some don’t. As we find things that work for us, we hang on to them. These special events in our family make special memories and creating new traditions gives my kids an opportunity to try new things within the safety of our family.

Give it some thought. It is a marvelous mommy-ful life!


Cindy Ashworth said...

You have been tagged.


Kirsten said...

Growing up as a child, my family had several traditions. I have one sister and we each had our own room growing up. During the Christmas season we would put a small Christmas tree by our bedside. When we woke up Christmas moring there would be a present undernearth wrapped in white tissue paper with a color of ribbon tied in a bow. We knew that the color of bow was our clue as to what gifts under the family tree were for us from Santa Claus. There have been other traditions in my family that are still continue today. I love this connection that my family can have together. Thanks for sharing this blog with us!

Kirsten said...

Here is a link to my blog:

RKH said...

It seems my traditions have been changing as the years go on. Sometime down the road I would love to go back to my family traditions. However, it seems like everyone is splitting up in my family including the family I once had. Again, good stuff you have for each holiday.

Heather said...

Hi I’m Heather! Please email me when you get a chance! HeatherVonsj(at)gmail(dot)com

Heather said...

Hi I’m Heather! Please email me when you get a chance! HeatherVonsj(at)gmail(dot)com