If you think about it, family traditions truly are the glue that holds us all together, and not just in the sense that they connect us across distance. They also help us feel more connected to both our pasts and our futures! Keep reading to learn how.
Family Traditions Are the Glue That Holds Us Together
The other day, I was looking at some journal prompts for inspiration. I found one that said, “Describe your family traditions and how they began.” I started thinking about that second part and how it related to our own family traditions that my husband and I started with our kids. For example, every year at Christmas time we “adopt” a family. We started it because we’re passionate about raising kind kids.
Other traditions that I started are rooted in the values that I, well, value. Character traits like empathy, compassion, consideration, and responsibility as well as lifelong “good habits” like healthy eating and exercise all play a role in our family traditions.
I thought about much I hope my kids continue these traditions with their own kids, and those kids with their kids, and so on down the line. It makes me feel closer not just to my children, but to all of those future great-great-great-grandkids that don’t even exist yet. Kids that, sadly, I’ll never meet because even the healthiest lifestyle doesn’t make you immortal (or at least not yet, who knows what the future holds, right?).
Traditions help us pass down values from one generation to the next
When we participate in family traditions, we’re not just connecting with our past and future, we’re also passing on our values. For example, we sit down for a family dinner at least 4 times a week. When we do that, we’re not just teaching our kids about healthy eating, but also about the importance of spending time together and prioritizing family.
The same goes for when we decorate our house during the holidays. We’re not just making our home look festive and pretty, we’re reinforcing a sense of togetherness and creating memories that they will always treasure.
I also love thinking about how the traditions that I have with my children will one day help them raise kinder and gentler kids. I feel like I’m helping make the world a better place not just for the people living in it now but for those who have yet to come.
Family traditions connect us across the miles and the years
To paraphrase Alex Haley, author of Roots, our families are both our links to the past and a bridge to the future. How amazing is it that these descendants of mine 100+ years in the future may begin their holiday by “adopting” a family in need and think back to how it all began with their great-great-great-etc-and-so-on-grandparents?
It fills me with so much joy to imagine! It really is like having a bridge to the future. I wonder if my great-great-great grandparents thought about that back when they started their own traditions. Maybe they thought about me the way I’m thinking about my future descendants long before I was even a concept (or before my parents and grandparents were even a concept). Isn’t that so neat, to know that we were loved by people who never even had the chance to know us and that we love people we’ll never get a chance to know, all thanks to family traditions?
Our traditions also create a sense of belonging
Family traditions can be a powerful tool to feel more connected to our loved ones far away. When we can’t physically be together with our family, doing shared traditions creates a sense of togetherness and closeness despite the distance.
Maybe your mom made a special dish for Easter day that you and your siblings make for your families now. Even if you’re on separate continents, just cooking that same meal can help you feel like you’re still a part of each other’s lives. Plus, when you sit down at the table to eat it, all of the memories of Easter Sundays gone by just flood back in.
Traditions connect us to our own cultures and help us learn about others
Traditions don’t just connect us to each other through time and space, but they also help connect us to our cultural identity and heritage. For example, if your family celebrates a holiday specific to where your family originally comes from, participating in traditions related to that holiday can help you learn more about the beliefs and practices that are a part of your heritage.
They don’t just help us understand our own heritage, though. Family traditions can also expose us to other cultures. For instance, I have an Irish friend from Boston who married a Japanese man who grew up in Tokyo. Their childhood experiences and cultures were vastly different. By participating in each other’s customs, though, they both learned more about each other. Their kids get to learn about both cultures that way, too.
It’s never too late to start a new family tradition
If you feel like you don’t have enough family traditions, then just start one! Seriously, it’s never too late. It doesn’t have to be a big and grand tradition, either. It could be something as simple as eating dinner together, watching a specific movie during the holidays, or playing a game when you all get together.
I saw a poem recently that said, “Family traditions old and new, what works for me may not work for you. The important thing is that we work together to make memories that will last forever.” That last part is definitely the most important part. Even if you’re just eating a simple meal on a Sunday evening, as long as you’re making memories together, it’s a wonderful tradition!
So whether you’re near or far from your family, take some time to reflect on the traditions that have helped shape your family’s story over time. By passing them down to future generations, we can stay connected to each other across thousands of miles and years.