The "season to be jolly" is a time for family traditions. But healthy families don't save their rituals and sharing just for November and December. Healthy families use traditions all through the year to maintain a sense of belonging. Some families have a special "goodnight" ritual (remember the Waltons?). Others have special words or stories that have meaning only for those in the family. Special ways of celebrating birthdays, family fun nights, and even hand-signals with secret meanings are all a way of saying, "We are a family. And this is how we do things." Here are some ideas to enrich your family traditions:
1) Make a list of all the rituals and traditions your family now celebrates. You may be surprised to discover the "traditions" that mean a lot to various family members. If your list is short, look for meaningful new ways to celebrate your family.
2) Plan reunions with extended family members. Provide a time for older family members to share stories of family history and heritage.
3) Hold a "family trivia night" during which family members try to "stump" each other with difficult questions about the family. What was the first word little Susie said? What was Daddy's favorite food when he was a boy? How did Joey get the scar on his left knee? A family trivia game can be a fun way to share family history and a sense of belonging.
4) Research your family's heritage. Our ancestors brought many of our holiday traditions to America from other countries. Perhaps you can discover some traditions from your heritage that will enhance your family celebrations throughout the year.
Source: Traits of a Healthy Family, by Dolores Curran, 1983, pp. 226-246.