I have something to share with my family magazine online friends because it is etched into my auditory memories like it was yesterday. The place: My childhood bedroom. The time: O-Dark-Thirty. The occasion: The first morning of a family road trip. Suddenly, my father bursts through my bedroom door and sings, at the top of his voice:
HEIDLY DINK TO-MOR-ROW! A JAYBIRD, HAWK, AND A SPARROW (pronounced, strangely enough as ‘spi-ro)’)! ME FATHER HAD A HOUSE FOURTEEN STORIES HIGH, AND EVERY ROOM WAS CHICKEN PIE!
Why would he do such a thing and at that time of the morning? Even as a kid my heart didn’t start until 10 am, at the earliest. But, it was my Dad, and I would give anything to hear him sing it again, 50 years later.
That’s the thing about family traditions. They bring back decades-old memories and remind us of an earlier (perhaps simpler) time in our own lives. They recall one memorable experience with a loved one, leading to other such memories. Today, Gildshire is thinking about family traditions. We’ll introduce a couple of ideas, but your job is to adapt, bend, and twist them until we may not recognize them. That way, they are yours forever.
1. Got Any Stories? (Family traditions are free from fussy grammar rules). This is a great tradition that instills a love of communication between family members. It takes place at dinner, where cell phones, tablets, and Snapchat E-Beards are not allowed. Instead, each family member has a choice to make. They tell something they learned or found interesting, today. It’s a great way for members of the tribe to learn what others find fascinating.
2. Family Call and Response: Jack Harbaugh’s family didn’t have much in the way of wealth. He was a high-school football coach and his wife was a homemaker. That didn’t stop Jack from making sons John and Jimmy believe they had everything they needed. Every so often, Jack would gather his family together and ask, “Who has it better than us?” The kids would shout “Nooo-Body!” Jimmy would grow up to coach the San Francisco 49ers and now the Michigan Wolverines. He uses the same call and response to build team unity.
3. Family Board Meeting: I saw your eyes glaze over, but they shouldn’t because Board Meetings are designed to see what is going well, and what can be improved. They are also for planning. Talk about what’s good and what isn’t, and accompany the meeting with a snack. Then, finish with a sharing of ideas for the next occasion, whether its Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, 4th of July, a family vacation or someone’s special birthday.
4. Cross-Gender Parent/Child Date: That sounds complicated, but it’s really Daddy/Daughter and Mom/Son time. The older our kids get, the more they tend to cleave to the parent of the same gender. It’s important to tend the bonds of family with both genders. The child gets to pick the activity.
5. Opening Day: We just had the Rite of Spring known as Opening Day of the baseball season, so if baseball is your family’s sport of choice, plan on taking in that all-important opener next year. But, you don’t have to know a hit-and-run from a run to the store to make an Opening Day tradition with your family. Perhaps, football or basketball is more your thing? They have Opening Day! Are you a family that likes to hunt, because there’s an Opening Day for that. The opera, ballet, or community theater have Opening Days and Nights all the way around. Pick one Opening Day, making it a day, or night, the family looks toward all year long.
6. First Day of School Pictures: This one can be done anytime in the days leading up to the real first day of school. Each year, take the kids to someplace in your town that is a favorite. It may be a park, riverside beach, or maybe a movie theater, but take a photo of them at their favorite place. In the years to come, the family will be able to reminisce about the milestone day as well as about the memories they have from the favorite place. It’s also fun to watch the favorite places change as the kids get new interests.
Those are our ideas for family traditions, so now bend them to your tastes and customs with our compliments. Happy memory-making, from our family magazine online to yours.