How to Start a Family Tradition
Family traditions are something that can be great for the whole family. They bring everyone closer together because they create something that the family shares which is exclusive from everyone else (although friends and extended family may sometimes be invited in to the tradition). Family traditions create great memories for kids to carry with them throughout their entire lives. They also provide the family with a sense of stability because everyone more or less knows what to expect in relation to the tradition. And finally, they provide something that you can always look forward to.
Unfortunately, most of us do not have family traditions that we stick with anymore. Perhaps our own parents didn't implement family traditions or maybe we just didn't stick with them ourselves when we became adults. Maybe the old traditions just don't suit our new lives with a spouse and kids. Whatever the case, many of us find that we want to start some traditions but we don't know where to begin. The good news is that starting is the hardest part; after that, your tradition should be easy and fun!
Here are some ideas and tips for starting a family tradition:
- Think back to your own childhood and brainstorm about any family traditions that you enjoyed. Consider holiday traditions, traditions surrounding meals and random traditions that may come to mind. Write them all down; you might find something there that makes sense for you to start up again.
- Ask your spouse if there were any childhood traditions in his or her family. Go through the same brainstorming process here. The main thing that you want to be wary of is trying to get a spouse on board with something that doesn't resonate with him. People's childhoods are complicated so if your spouse mentions a memory of a tradition but doesn't want to implement it in your family, don't push the issue.
- Ask siblings, friends and co-workers about their family traditions. Compile these into a separate list.
- Brainstorm brand-new traditions that might be good for your family. The key here is to think about all of the things that your family already does. For example, do you celebrate Christmas each year? The tradition may be around that. Or do you all enjoy pizza-and-movie nights? If so, you might be able to make that into a weekly tradition. Be open to getting ideas from everyone in the family.
- After compiling all of these lists, sit down and go through them. Choose only the ones that really stand out as something that you think would be fun, easy and realistic for your own family. Then get together with the rest of the family and start going through them. Discuss the pros and cons of different traditions. Talk about who will be responsible for what in each scenario. (For example, who is going to pick out the Friday night movie?)
- After choosing a tradition, think realistically about how often it can be implemented. Maybe you can only do pizza-and-a-movie once a month instead of every week. Perhaps it's more realistic to have a Christmas Eve tradition instead of a Christmas Day tradition. Or maybe you need to do Christmas-in-July because that's when you all have time off. Really looking at the realities of your lives can help implementing a new tradition go more smoothly.
- Get excited - and show it. Your family may or may not be excited; you need to have the enthusiasm to get every one else on board. In order to do that, you should add some small portions to the tradition that will get everyone in the mood. For example, you may ask everyone in the family to come to your Wednesday dinner table with a movie in mind that they'd like to watch that week so you can all discuss it and start getting excited.
- Treat it like a professional appointment. Once you've decided to go ahead and do this, you need to make sure you that you actually do it. There are going to be times that you don't feel like it even if you're generally excited about it. Try to treat it like a professional appointment, a commitment that you're obligated to do. It'll feel bad at first but you'll ultimately be glad that you stuck with it.
- Be open to change. Of course, you don't have to stick with a family tradition that isn't working. Be flexible with it. Have fun with it. Involve your spouse and kids in coming up with a way to make the tradition work for you. Or choose another tradition and try that instead. As long as the family is making these decisions together, everyone is ultimately going to benefit.
- Take pictures. Make sure that you take pictures of your tradition throughout its duration. Get everyone involved in photographing the event and making scrapbooks afterwards (whether online or physical scrapbooks). This will get everyone re-excited about the tradition and will make you all want to keep doing it again and again.
Starting a family tradition isn't easy but it's well worth the effort that you'll put in. You'll create a great situation that you'll all love and something that makes your family feel closer than ever.