by Inez Haythorn
It is so important to have traditions. They are part of the glue that holds families together. Traditions are beneficial in several ways. First, they give children and even teens a sense of security. They know that in an uncertain world, some things stay the same. Traditions also foster closeness in the immediate and extended family. Lasting memories are formed, and hopefully our children will continue the customs in their own homes and make more of their own.
Here are some suggestions for creating some family traditions. None are hard to do. These have worked over the years for our family.
We started this when my first son was a baby. My mother, sister and brother-in-law, my husband, sons, and I get together for a carry-in dinner every Sunday. We take turns hosting the dinner at our houses. Whoever makes the main dish has the dinner at their house. After my dad died, this was especially meaningful to my mother. It gives us all something for which to look forward.
FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE AND PIZZA
Every Friday night my family and my husband's brother get together for a movie. Usually we have pizza for supper on Friday because it is the end of a tiring work week. I can either throw one in the oven or call in one to be delivered.
We have watched some really good movies and some we tried were not as good as they were advertised to be. However, we get a kick out of my 86 year old mother watching these wild action movies that all the guys like! She's interested, too!.
This is one thing that we tried to do when the boys were younger. It was a little harder to keep up with, because of extra-curricular activities and homework. It is nice to set aside one evening of the week, maybe Wednesday, and have everyone sit at the kitchen table and play board games.
Being a teacher, I have read to my children since they were just a few months old. My husband and I memorized Dr. Seuss's "ABC" book! Then as the boys got older, we got into action books and mysteries. I enjoyed them as much as the kids did. It was a nice, calm way to end the day and get settled for bed.
NIGHTLY DEVOTIONS AND PRAYER
From the time the boys were young, I tried to establish the importance of regular Bible reading and prayer. When they were small, we read short Bible stories and had short prayers. Even now, as teens, we read the Bible and pray over any issues in their lives.
I LOVE YOU
Saying "I Love You" seems like such a small thing, but it is so important. We tell each other that before we part for school or work, and before going to bed at night.
HOLIDAYS AND BIRTHDAYS
We always use these as an excuse to get together with family and friends. Have your children help with the planning to make them feel more apart of it. We take turns at each other's houses. For instance, Christmas dinner is at my mother's. Fourth of July is at my sister's pool.
VACATIONS AND CAMPING
Taking vacations or camping trips together can be a great way to build memories. One year, we rented a condo that was big enough for my mother, sister and her husband, and the four of us. My boys were about five and nine years old. We had fake arguments over coffee all week long. My sister likes her's weak, and I like mine as strong as Dutch coffee!
When the week was over, and everyone was back home, my boys said what they missed the most was us joking over coffee!
My husband and I would always plan a date for our anniversary. We would go to a nice restaurant and maybe a movie. When the kids were younger, we would rent movies, call in pizza, and they would spend the evening with Grandma. It was a treat for all of us.
We all need traditions. As my children get older, I realize how quickly the time passes. I am glad that we put forth the extra effort to keep up with these different activities. I hope you find some of them enjoyable, too.
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