Today we live in a cynical society. Technology, reality shows and family demands are replacing traditions in the American family.
A tradition may be defined as an occasion or event that becomes a custom practice. It can be an annual occurrence (such as a family reunion) or a convention your family applies regularly (such as special toasts at gatherings). Traditions can become the anchor upon which a family builds its foundation and continues its evolution and ties in the future.
Memories and experiences that are associated with certain traditions become precious and priceless. The value of traditions is immeasurable. They help to define who we are and what our belief system may be. Traditions can provide continuity and enrich an event making it so memorable and making it recurrent strengthens family relations.
Easter is almost upon us and it gives me reason to reflect on my family traditions. I can almost smell the scents in my mother’s kitchen as she prepared her rice pies. It makes me smile. Her pies were a bit dry but tasty and each year my best friend Lorraine and I would eagerly await our first bite. After my mom died, I did not want to think about that pie for many years, but I missed them, as I did her. A couple of years ago Lorraine and I attempted our first rice pies. They came out pretty good but the truth is, they were not my mother’s dry pie and the strength of that memory means more.
There are some who believe that perpetuating the myth of the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus is basically lying to our children. Whatever your belief system, there is an argument to be made for make believe and imagination and if you remove the heavy duty commercialism, it can actually have valuable lessons to teach a child. Believing in something beyond ourselves and unseen is what religion asks of us, on a spiritual level.
A child is young only for so long. Reality and life’s burdens will be thrust upon them soon enough. Were the many generations before us harmed by believing in a bunny who delivers eggs or a big jolly man passing out toys? I am only addressing the imaginative part of these traditions, not the religious. That is for another time. As for me, it is those memories of my mother at the annual family reunion as well as Easter and Christmas that are the strongest. Till the day she died, she addressed all gifts under the tree “from Santa.” Nothing can take away the pleasure of those memories.
Easter has a deeply spiritual meaning because it is the time that Jesus Christ rose again after his death had atoned for our sins. Many people attend pageant like services to rejoice and celebrate. New dresses and suits are bought for the kids and even the occasional Easter bonnet. Another special memory from my past–the new dresses my Mother usually made for my 3 sisters and I and the new coats and hats. As a child the new clothes mean a great deal. My focus may not have been on the actual service but I do not feel it was a determent to my well-being either.
Whatever your feelings about holiday/familial traditions there’s something to be said about relatives celebrating together. You can make your celebration recognition about religion as well as making new traditions and memories. Continuing tradition teaches valuable lessons to children. Be sure and create memories for your child. Provide this invaluable life lesson for your family by following in some of the traditions you grew up with and by creating new ones of your own. These tangible memories are easy to construct:
• Photos, videos and written journals
• Individualized songs or personal mementos
• Annual reunions or celebrations beyond the normal holidays
• Christmas event where each participant has a certain role (plays, song, storytelling)
• Easter egg hunts or craft projects
• Birthdays-a special outing specific to that person
• Calls or trips to signify the importance of an occasion
The list is endless and you can follow family traditions or be imaginative and start a new one of your own. The significance is not in how extravagant but how memorable that tradition becomes. Traditions solidify families and generate the familial connection for generations to come. Create a memory today, make it a tradition, pass it along to your children, and teach the importance of such practices so it does not get lost in this fast-paced world. Treasure the heart of your family with precious traditions.