When you think about traditions, perhaps you think about the holidays. But what about “everyday traditions” that make your family unique?
In the 1999 film The Story of Us, directed by Rob Reiner, Bruce Willis and Michelle Pfeiffer play a married couple with two children whose marriage has become a bit rocky. One of the “everyday traditions” that their family has is sharing their “High/Low” for the day. As they gather around the dinner table, they each share their best and worst moments of their day. Spending this time together as a family, and beginning this conversation is a starting point that can lead to some nice discussion about what was important, fun, or difficult for each member of your family. If a child is too young to talk, perhaps one of the other family members can help tell about a good moment that they shared with that person.
One of the “traditions” in our family is to use a special plate to recognize a family member for some accomplishment. Growing up in my household, we were given the “Special Plate” by a friend as a Christmas gift. The plate was to be used to help celebrate that member of the family for doing something special. For instance, if a child got an A+ on a test or lost a tooth, or it was Dad’s birthday, or Mom ran her first marathon, it would be a great day for them to get the “Special Plate” for dinner.
When Jake and I were waiting to adopt our first child, I made a trip to The Mad Potter with a friend one evening. She was busily painting some Christmas bulbs to give as gifts, and I selected a nice sized dinner plate. I was on a mission to make a special piece, to be used in our home, to celebrate the exciting and wonderful things the people in my new family would be doing over the years to come.
I picked a bright green hue, and then sprinkled some fun polka-dots throughout the plate. In the center of it, I scrawled the word CELEBRATE! Now, I am able to pull out our “Celebrate Plate” when it is time to recognize special accomplishments that have happened in our family.
If you have more space in your house, perhaps a special chair could be used at your dinner table. Check out the Habitat ReStore to see about purchasing a chair to repurpose. Use paint, handprints, stickers, or glitter glue to make the chair meaningful to your family. Allow the person you are celebrating to sit in the chair for dinner, and discuss why they get the honor of sitting there that day. Maybe starting a list of the date, who, and why they’re being celebrated would be fun way to look back over the years to remember all of the good things each family member has done.
As your family situations change, your “everyday traditions” might change, too. Recently, my husband spent 14 months away from home on a deployment to Afghanistan. I remained in the Quad Cities to work and raise our son who was 2 ½-3 ½ years old during that time. Talking about the years’ worth of days that spanned between the time Jake left and the time he returned was an insurmountable task for a Mommy to explain to such a young boy, but I had an idea. I purchased two small plastic containers from a dollar store and a large jug of jellybeans. I meticulously counted out 365 beans into each jar. One jar went with Daddy to Afghanistan, and one jar stayed at home. Each day, one bean would be eaten, and as time progressed, we could see that the days were dwindling until we’d have Asher’s “Soldier Daddy” back in our arms again. Like life, some days the jellybeans were good, yummy…and other days they were not our favorite flavor, and we looked forward to a better day…and a better jellybean…tomorrow. It helped us to know we were each doing the same thing daily, even though our family was thousands of miles apart. Our friends checked in on us by asking “How many jellybeans left in your jar?” It was a tangible way for us all to see how much progress we had made in a year.
What are your everyday traditions? If you don’t have any yet, perhaps you should start making them. Today is a perfect day to start making memories!