Family Rituals Can Define Your Family
Family structure is built on many shared experiences. Your family rituals can help define your family’s personality. Rituals can teach values and build a family history. They can be ways for your children to develop their personalities and gifts.
Since we have just started a New Year, now is a good time to think about our family rituals for this coming year. A ritual is an activity that is repeated over time, usually with little change in the execution. You may already have in place certain things that you do together at holiday time.
Here are some suggestions you may want to adopt.
• Often Thanksgiving dinner consists of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy and vegetables. That’s a ritualized menu and that’s not bad. The sameness gives a kind of stability and comfort to the holiday.
• Maybe a holiday meal becomes a ritual in the opposite way. Perhaps the menu is chosen to be different each year. It’s a time to try new cuisines or perhaps introduce a cultural theme.
• Christmas could be a time to visit housebound relatives or those in nursing homes. I remember as a child, going with my father to visit great aunts and uncles scattered through the city. When I had children of my own, we would always visit the nursing home where my aunt lived. This was a ritual until she passed away.
• When we gather to open gifts on Christmas morning, we adopted a ritual that I enjoyed in my childhood. We opened gifts, one at a time, starting with the oldest and working down to the youngest. As you can imagine, this took a long time, but we all got to enjoy watching each other open their gifts.
• Making cookies and decorating them certainly qualifies as a family ritual. We always made sugar cookies and then decorated them with colored icing applied with toothpicks to create individual designs.
• When the children were young, we always created homemade ornaments for the Christmas tree. Sometimes we would buy a commercial kit and sometimes we would use homegrown objects. One year we made oyster shell ornaments. I think they were the heaviest ornaments that were ever hung on a Christmas tree!
It’s always special when grandparents come to visit. Here’s a few of the things that our family did when Grandma and Grandpa came to dinner.
• My children always put on some kind of show for them. It could be a puppet show or some kind of skit. Of course, they always sold tickets to these events.
• All of my children took music lessons during grade school, so they would put on a concert when their grandparents came to visit. I think this helped them to develop self confidence when it came to performing in school.
• We would often bring out the slide projector and look at slides of past years. This was something we could all enjoy.
Family nights or days are a time for the parents and children to gather together for various types of activities.
• Maybe one night a week, probably Friday night, could be designated as family night. The meal could be pizza or take out. Time could be spent playing games or cards. An age appropriate movie could be chosen, complete with popcorn of course. Try some interactive games. Charades is a great way to get everyone up off their feet and laughing.
• Family nights can be serious. Maybe once a month or as needed, you can schedule a family meeting. The time would be used to discuss issues that have surfaced that would threaten family harmony. If you desire, family goals can be set for the future, which can be evaluated at future meetings. If you are religious, this could be a time of prayer, for the immediate and extended family and for those friends in need.
• Maybe your family has a leisure activity that everyone enjoys. Perhaps it’s hiking or camping. It could be gardening or birding. These are low cost activities that only require a large three room family tent and a pair of Nikon 7294 binoculars.
• Going to church on Sunday is a ritual that many families practice. Going out to lunch after church extends the enjoyment.
• If your family enjoys sports, watching games together on TV can become a ritual.
Rituals have a very important part in defining the personality of your family. I have enjoyed several of the family rituals that I have listed above. I’d love to hear some of yours.