Saturday, September 20, 2008
It seems as if every person finds great safety, security and belonging from the practice of family traditions. Maybe because we are in an ever-changing world that is so unbelievably unpredictable that we look to traditions to bring a sense of permanence and peace to our lives. Even when in the midst of pain and heartache, we look with anticipation to family traditions knowing that they will give us comfort and a connection to ourselves, others, and God. Tradition gives us a link to the past... a familiar familial continuity that we crave.
We all carry traditions with us into the holidays. All thought of organics flies out the window around here when Thanksgiving rolls around. I want sweet potato casserole, sausage cornbread stuffing, and our family's holiday Derby Pie. Those foods bring us a sense of warmth and joy and bring us together again..."we made it together through another year!" At Christmas we love to open one gift on Christmas Eve...and it's always known to be a new set of cozy pajamas to wear that very night. We have a special Birthday plate and each person looks forward to choosing their favorite meals for the whole day.
But what about incorporating some everyday or every week traditions into our lives? American families are under so much stress these days...financially with rising prices, housing situations, busy schedules, the pressure to conform to a societal mold, angst with schooling decisions. And for Christians you can add an underlying spiritual pressure to give more, perform more, serve more, discipline your children more, and on and on. I think that it can be a blessed thing to incorporate some lifestyle traditions that will allow us to just be who we are as a family. Find our own unique rhythm that's not dictated by society, church, or friends. Find our own family identity. Stop keeping up with the Joneses know matter how wonderful they seem to be. A refreshing oasis-time away from the stress.
I have just started thinking more about this in the past few years as I come out of a place where I was very pressured to be just like those who I was with. I have been in a place of soul-searching and identity-searching...who am I? What do I like? What interests capture my attention? What clothes do I enjoy? How do I like to decorate? What foods do I enjoy? What do I want to learn? How had God made me unique? What are my gifts and talents that I have been asked to steward?
And living within a family of six, what makes our family unique? What are our personalities? Mike and I are both Sanguines which makes sense because we both want to have lots of people to share life with...that leads us to have Hospitality as a hallmark for our family. How do we as a family like to spend time together? Which activities do we want to participate in (instead of doing activities just because other families are!)?
We as a family love to watch movies and now have Friday Family Movie Night each week. Last night was Muppets in Manhattan. It was actually scary to see how much of that movie I had memorized from when I was young!! :)
And then Friday night is also Family Sleepover Night. We haven't allowed our children to sleepover at other kids' houses...instead they get to choose where in our home they want to sleep on Friday nights. John and Katie chose the floor of our room last night, and Sam and Will slept in their own beds. It switches every week and each person is free to decide where they'll sleep (our room is the favorite for all of them!).
We love to play kickball on most summer evenings and take long walks on most fall evenings.
We also love to walk to church on Sundays if weather and time permit.
We like to camp twice in the Spring and twice in the Fall...in the Spring we camp Mother's Day weekend and Father's Day weekend.
John and I like to have "snuggly buggles" which is daily time when he lays next to me for a minute or two to just be near.
Mike and I drink coffee together early on most mornings...he wakes me up with a steaming cup of joe... I prop up in bed and he sits next to me in the rocker and we talk and pray.
We set a pretty table every night for dinner...usually a table cloth with a simple centerpiece and our white plates, cloth napkins, and glass goblets. We don't "say grace" usually...instead we hold hands, and starting with the youngest child, each one shares what they thank God for that happened that day.
My sister's family has moved around a lot in the last few years so they incorporated "Frapp Night"as a connection constancy in the midst of all the change. Wherever they live, they head to Starbucks every Thursday night without fail to have frappucinos together. I just love that.
These are a few examples of simple traditions that we have incorporated into our daily lives. They bring us such joy and connection and security during these busy seasons. It's a time of unity, of laughter, of relaxing, and of being with.
Simple traditions with rich rewards. Be rewarded!