I have been ruminating on my last post and have this nagging feeling of it being unfinished. You see, while I do have a love affair with traditions and want an abundance of them in my family, I think that the day-to-day realities of life are often far more influenced by the rituals we create.
This became crystal clear as I went to grab a cup of coffee yesterday morning and *gulp* the creamer container stood...empty...on the counter. Oh. My. Word. I look forward to my little one's nap-time for the express purpose of holding that warm, aromatic cup, breathing the smell in deeply, and taking that delicious first sip. I realize that you non-coffee lovers are perplexed by my affinity...okay lets just call it what it is...obsession of this strong and bitter beverage, but those of you who are coffee drinkers are raising your cup with a hearty amen! For me, there is something about a cup of coffee that just starts my day off right. And though my taste buds do dance in delight at the flavor, I think it has more to do with the ritual of drinking a morning cup of coffee than the taste or the caffeine.
Rituals help keep us grounded in the chaos of life. I can be adventurous and at times love nothing more than an unplanned getaway, but in the ebb and flow of day-to-day life it is reassuring to have a few things we can count on. Whether it be my morning cup of Joe, reading stories to my little one before her nap, a big hug from my man when I finally see him at the end of a long day, or washing my face right before bed (side note: I had a friend in college who had the need to wash her feet right before bed...I never could decide if I thought it was weird or biblical) the rituals I follow help keep me grounded.
So, in honor of all those OCD list-makers out there, (of which I am proud to say I am a member), I have put together some ideas of Traditions AND Rituals you might consider for yourself. You can take any or none of these ideas for yourself, whatever you fancy! Also, I would love your input on traditions and rituals you have that might be an inspiration to the rest of us!
- Weekly Tradition: Saturday Morning Sleep-In! Have everyone pile into mom and dad's bed for 15-20 minutes on Saturday mornings and have a family cuddle-fest. (This might not go over so well with teenagers but when I was five I was SO into this!) A variation for families with older kids might be a big Saturday breakfast together.
- Weekly or Monthly Tradition: Family Game Night! Pick a day of the week or month and make it a point to play games together as a family. No TV allowed (unless you're playing Scene It of course). Maybe you make this a junk-food night too. If kids don't normally get hot dogs and cookies maybe this is the monthly exception.
- Monthly Tradition: Giving Back! Find a cause in your community that your whole family can get behind. Maybe its helping out at a shelter serving food, maybe its cleaning up a park, or maybe its visiting a convalescent hospital and reading to the patients or playing games with them. Whatever works with your family, spend time together serving others.
- Yearly Tradition(s): There are so many to choose from! We've got the standard Christmas Carol sing-alongs, checking out Christmas lights, we've got pumpkin carving and Easter egg hunts...but I also think establishing unique family traditions can build some family pride in children. Maybe its the traditional Smith Family Cookout every August, or maybe its the annual (Fill-In-Your-Name-Here) Family camping trip. Or maybe its a beachhouse getaway or a yearly family Olympics or a skip-school shopping day or hiking day with mom or dad. Money doesn't have to be an issue, just create something for kids to look forward to every year. Better yet, a couple of somethings, life is short!
- Coming-of-Age Traditions: Here is where it pays to get creative. I had a friend whose whole family gifted all the sons with sword sheathes when they turned 13. They were taken out on a "mans adventure" with all the family men and given an encouraging talk about what a man of honor was. They were told they would get the sword to put in the sheath when they became men. This would work for a daughter as well with a sword, or a purity ring, or a key to a chest. I also really like the idea of taking your son or daughter out on a date when you decide they are old enough to start dating. Mom or dad gets to be the official "first date" encouraging their son or daughter to be wise and discerning as well as telling them how proud they are of who they are becoming as young men or women. Maybe each child gets a pet when they turn a certain age, or maybe their curfew gets later, or maybe they have specific privileges added. Whatever it is, celebrate it!
- Praying before meals (and on that note, making it a point to eat together as a family at least a few times a week).
- Tucking your kids in bed each night. Maybe it involves a bedtime story or sitting on the edge of their bed recapping their day together. Use this time to wind down and remind them you are their biggest fan.
- 15 minutes of quiet time for yourself...maybe its a morning cup of coffee and time in the Word, maybe its a lunch-break walk around the block and quick stretch, just make it a point to spend time focused on something you get refreshment from and do it each day so you can look forward to it when things are tough.
- Getting more creative...maybe you have a family white board where you write notes to everyone each morning. Or maybe you slip a smiley face with a "thinking of you" in their lunches (note: husbands like this too). Daily let your family know that you love them and are thinking about them.
- One word: Affection. Don't forget those hugs and kisses, hair tugs and pats on the back. Your kids may go through fazes where they don't want to be smothered, but a shoulder squeeze and "I love you" can go a long way in teenage-land. Make sure you are giving generous daily doses of love to your family.
I'm sure there are many, many more ways to incorporate traditions and rituals into your family. Which ones you chose depends a lot on your specific family. The Annual Summer Loogie Hocking Competition isn't for everyone (that's so gross, I can't believe I just thought that up in my head...it will not make it into the collection of Wallaert family traditions I can assure you) but there are ways you can connect with your family daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly. Make it a point to do so. I promise you won't regret it (unless you go for the aforementioned loogie hocking...then you might regret it deeply). In any case, hope you got some good ideas and inspiration! Spend time enjoying your family today!