Some time ago my oldest daughter (mid-twenties) spoke to young adults she worked with, asking about their family traditions during a particular time of year. She was quite surprised that few had any. Their youth was characterized by programs and individual activities, with few family traditions with any members of their immediate or extended families. My daughter found that quite sad. She has traditions for all kinds of occasions, seasons and ages that she fondly remembers, avidly looks forward to and hopes to continue. In our over busy world, we can easily overlook this simple reality and miss the richness it offers.
Traditions definitely come in all sizes and shapes. Some have been passed down from generation to generation. They need not be expensive nor take oodles of time. They can take the form of music, a tasty meal, a yearly outing, regular activity or ways of doing something. They can take but a moment, like the way we greet someone when they come home, or last a while, like a yearly family trip. Traditions can tie us to grandparents, culture and ancestry and greatly impact our identity. Past can thereby influence present. Many traditions incarnate dearly held values, whether in the way we celebrate birthdays and special occasions, or how we practise religious customs.
Many times we begin married life with few traditions. We create them as we go, sometimes intentionally and other times not. Something appeals to someone and all of a sudden we wish to repeat the moment. Traditions can bring laughter, connection, joy, belonging, basically something that lightens our day and brings us together. Certainly many traditions have to adapt to the ages and stages of family life, as well as our circumstances. The traditions of a young mom differ dramatically from the traditions of a grandmother. As the family grows and changes, so do our traditions. Traditions inspire loyalty and unity in the family because they are built around shared values. They have the power to pull people together, adding security and strength to family life. They create anticipation, excitement and remembrance. Just thinking about them warms our heart and puts a smile on our face. They become part of the memories that sustain us no matter where we are and what we become. Great traditions have a power for much good in our lives.
Moms are key players in creating and maintaining traditions. They carve out the time, provide the occasions and take care of the details for everyone's enjoyment. Certainly moms can get bogged down by logistics, high expectations and overwhelming responsibilities. We all experience that many times throughout our lives. It becomes necessary to constantly discuss our expectations as a couple, and as a family to ensure right priorities. We may want to delegate responsibilities and share the load as the years pass and to develop flexibility where it is needed. Traditions are a means for strengthening family life, not an end in itself. Be able to adjust, improve and let go in order to fit the ages, stages and circumstances. There is a season for everything. Well chosen traditions are invaluable anchors in identity, values and legacy, helping to sweeten our days and transcend the moment.
Here are some traditions to give you ideas of what others are doing.