I have been reflecting recently on traditions. This has been prompted in response to hearing something a good friend shared with me as she grieved the recent passing of her nana. One of the traditions that had evolved over time in her family was ‘Generation Day’. She described this as a day that her family celebrates love! ‘Generation Day’ was celebrated in her family on the thirteenth of every month and it involved being the first family on that day to say ‘Happy Generation Day’ to each other! What started off years ago as a gentle effort by family members to win, evolved into some creative and memorable efforts including one time when her nana wrote it on a napkin and held it up to the window before letting her in, and other times when a phone call on the thirteen would commence simply with family members yelling ‘Happy Generation Day’ to each other as quickly as possible.
What a fabulous family tradition that brings both laughter and connection across the generations on a regular basis throughout the year!
My friend knows that the thirteen of next month is going to sting, as her nana will miss her first ‘Generation Day’ and her family grieves her absence, but they have some very special memories to hold dear, brought about because of a simple tradition.
Traditions- big or small
My friend’s family tradition has caused me to reflect on the traditions in my family.
In our home Friday nights means movie and fish and chips, while for birthdays it’s essential that the decade-old foil ‘Happy Birthday’ sign is stuck on the dining room wall (where it remains for at least a week). And perhaps one of our first family traditions as a blended- family was the introduction of sharing of the favourite part of our day each night at the dinner table. And of course there are many more!
These traditions aren’t expensive or elaborate, but they do help to create a sense of connection and anticipation within our family as well as bringing us great joy! When my three year turned to me one Friday night, poised to start his fish and chips and the movie of choice lined up ready to start, his enthusiastic call of ‘happy movie night everyone!’ brought a smile to my face and happiness to my heart.
There are plenty of websites that will provide inspiration for new family traditions to those who are looking for it. Perhaps one of the best suggestions I came across is a ‘New responsibility/new privilege card’ given to your child on their birthday. This concept is based on the idea that with age comes power and subsequently responsibility. Birthdays will always involve exciting birthday presents for children and this tradition takes that excitement one step further. The card outlines a new age-appropriate responsibility as well as an age-appropriate privilege that the child is entitled to now they are one year older. What a wonderful way of creating a special memory out of a natural development milestone in your child. I think I may just try this in my next family birthday!
Traditions can take effort to maintain and when family life is already busy with work, school and extra-curricular activities, I think there is real value in being intentional in creating traditions that will build the type of lifelong memories and joy that you want for your family
Merewyn Foran is married, a mother to two teenage step-daughters and two younger children. She is a senior executive in a Melbourne not for profit organisation.
Merewyn Foran previous articles may be viewed www.pressserviceinternational.org/merewyn-foran.html