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How to create family traditions

Marye Audet is an author, freelance writer and editor. As a work at home mom she has a unique perspective that encompasses the overwhelming deadlines and commitments of the professional woman as well as the constantly changing needs of a...

Making memories

Family traditions create fond memories that last a lifetime. The very best of them are passed down from generation to generation and relived at family reunions and holiday get-togethers. If you come from a family with few traditions, create your own!

Family sledding

Look for ideas

Pay attention to what other families do. Talk to your friends, read articles and do some research on the Internet to come up with ideas. Keep in mind that you don't have to do things exactly the way other families do. If you see a tradition you like but it doesn't quite fit your family, tweak it until it does.

Ask questions

Ask your family if they miss any things you have done in the past that you don't do anymore or only did once or twice. Next, ask if there is anything that they might like to do to create a new tradition.

Keep your expectations realistic

The family next door goes to nursing homes to sing Christmas carols every year, and it looks like one of those tear-jerker Christmas commercials in your mind. It sounds great until you remember that your kids can't keep a tune and your husband has a phobia about hospital settings.

Scratch that and any other unrealistic idea from the list. Tailor the tradition to your family's talents, interests and abilities to create your own special moments that everyone can enjoy. Keep in mind that teenagers often scoff at the traditions but later admit that they were special parts of their childhoods.

Be adventurous

If one of your family members suggests that the best tradition of all would be a game night featuring a game you have hated since childhood, don't say "no" too fast. Give it a try. You may have more fun than you expect, and a new tradition could emerge.

Ideas to get you started

Remember: All traditions begin with a first time that gets repeated over and over again.

  • Game night — Many families choose a weeknight to eat pizza and play board games.
  • Snow day — Take the first snow of the season as a signal to take time off. Put chores and responsibilities on hold, and go outside to play even if it is just for the afternoon.
  • Weekend brunch — Make a special breakfast one Saturday a month, or go out to eat a leisurely breakfast with the family.
  • A campout under the Christmas tree — Choose one night before Christmas to camp out in the den. Fall asleep to the lights of the tree, watch back-to-back Christmas movies, and eat cookies.
  • Pajama run — On the first night of summer vacation, wait for the kids to get ready for bed and then tell them you are going on a pajama run. Pile in the car and go get a shake, a Slurpee or some other special treat.

Be willing to let it go

If you try to implement a new tradition and it just doesn't work for you, be willing to let it go. Family traditions are times to create happy memories, not frustration. Keep only the activities that everyone enjoys.

More family time ideas

How to have a family game night
Starting your own family tradition
How to create holiday traditions with your kids

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