family tradition basics

As a child, I remember watching the city fireworks show with my family. Resting on a blanket gazing into the sky, my brothers and I “oohed” and “ahhed” each time a new firework exploded into the air.

We sat so close to the fireworks I could feel the ground shake with each explosion and smell the expelled black powder. Bright, colorful sparks lighted up the entire sky, and debris from the fireworks shells showered down on me.

My father was a volunteer firefighter for our city. Where I grew up, it was the firemen who were in charge of setting off the firework show, and the families of the firefighters had the best seats in the house — on a roped-off grassy area, right underneath the nighttime show.

Year after year, my siblings, and even my cousins, would spread our blankets out on the grass and wait in anticipation for the fireworks to start and the ground to shake. Few things are better than fireworks that make the ground shake beneath you. My siblings would agree.

In addition to fireworks, I loved our city’s parade. My brothers and I would pile on top of the fire department’s ladder truck, alongside all the other firefighters’ children. As the truck crawled along the parade route, we’d toss salt water taffy into the crowd. It is way more fun throwing the candy then catching it.

Parades, pancake breakfasts and front-row seats to the firework show; my family knew how to celebrate summer. I have such strong memories created from rich family traditions and know just how significant family traditions can be.

Family traditions bond us as families. They create happy feelings and special moments that we get to remember and associate with the people we love. Those moments often lead to memories that last a lifetime.

Now having a growing family of my own, I have learned a few things as I have tried to create — and re-create — my own family traditions with my children. Here are some important things you may want to know as you create your own family traditions:

1. Some family traditions are hard work

Being consistent with anything takes focus and often a plan, and family traditions are no exception. So enter with caution! Even making green eggs for St. Patrick’s Day takes effort, and Santa knows just how much work goes into hosting an Elf on the Shelf during the holidays. Next year, our Elf on the Shelf is only invited back for the 12 Days of Christmas!

But when all is said and done, I want my children to have the memories, so it’s worth the effort. Thankfully not all traditions require a consistent parent.

2. Sometimes simple is best

Yes, many traditions require planning, but let’s not overlook the simple things we can do to create family memories that last. Sometimes the most effective traditions are the ones that don’t require constant maintenance.

create family memories that last

At our house, we love family movie night with a bowl of simple microwave popcorn. If I’m feeling really fancy, I’ll throw a surprise piece of candy into each child’s cup of popcorn.

3. We can’t always re-create family traditions from our childhood, and that’s OK

It will be rare if I am able to re-create the same firework experience I had as a child for my own children. Nor will my children get to ride on a ladder truck in a parade. It is just not possible for me to re-create all of the same family traditions I had as a child.

The moment I realized this, I set myself free — free from a feeling of duty and obligation. I could then clearly focus on my little family and the traditions that I could start with them that would be most beneficial for them.

4. Family traditions instill values

As a child, my family’s summer traditions taught me about civic duty and patriotism. Through other family traditions I also learned about teamwork and service.

As a mother, I feel it’s important for my children to not only learn about values but to experience those values right alongside me. I hope to create family traditions that teach them service, kindness, patience and gratitude.

This article was originally published in Motherhood Matters on
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