Life Times Newsletter

Fall 2005
Vol. 7, No.

Creating family traditions

As we each think back to childhood memories, I’m sure everyone remembers some special event, tradition, or ritual that seemed to bond our families together. For me, there are many, but one that always pops into my head during the summer vacation season is the miniature golf our family played wherever we went.
I can still remember the years when my daughters could barely hold a golf club, as well as the times when they could “beat” both their father and me. The girls are grown now, but they still talk about all the different miniature golf courses we visited and what fun we had!
    Family traditions are generally repeated over and over again. Children especially find comfort in knowing something they enjoy will most certainly happen again. A tradition is a tool that helps us build strong, healthy families, and makes sure we do things we truly value.
    Traditions can evoke memories that lead to good feelings connected to those things—Grandma’s special apple pie at Thanksgiving, or 4th of July fireworks at Grandpa and Grandma’s farm. Since traditions often involve celebrations or holidays, they often give us a chance to maintain connections with family and special friends.
A very important aspect of traditions is that they help us create a family history that may be passed on through generations. Family photos of us doing the same thing year after year can help us and our children feel connected to the generations who came before us. Family rituals give us a great chance to teach family
values and define what our family means. So many lessons are learned from simple activities that include discussion in a relaxed, happy atmosphere.
    In addition, traditions and rituals are a great way to bring generations together. Everyone can contribute something to create precious memories, whether it is stories about the past from older family members or wonder, excitement and joy from the younger set. Traditions can help us “pause” amidst all the hectic, busy times of our lives because these events are often planned and scheduled. Traditions are frequently associated with holidays, but opportunities exist for events all year long.
    I quizzed some friends about their traditions. I’d like to share with you a few of their ideas and my own. Then you can think about what traditions you already have or new ones you might like to try:

After my children were born, I started buying them a dated keepsake ornament each year at Christmas. They were lovingly placed on the tree. As each child got married, I gave each their collection as a starting point for their new tree and as a way to remember past holidays. You could adapt this custom to your own holiday traditions, such as Hanukkah or Kwanzaa.

Maudie Kelly, MS
Human Development Specialist

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University of Missouri Extension Editor: Roxanne T. Miller