I was taping a No Regrets Parenting radio interview for Joanne Wilson’s The Parent Report (http://www.theparentreport.com/) yesterday. The producer/sound engineer running “the board” in the studio was a nice young man named David (name changed in case he’d rather be anonymous). My discussion with Joanne was far-reaching, touching on all aspects of No Regrets Parenting. When the topic got around to establishing family traditions, I spoke about the “big traditions” that families develop around big events – Thanksgiving, the December holidays, birthdays, etc. I also explained why it’s important for families to establish “little traditions” that are unique to each family. Silly, funny, warm, and touching observances that parents and kids will remember long past childhood.
Among the “little traditions” I gave as examples: hanging balloons from the ceiling above the kitchen table on the night before birthdays so the room is festive and special when the birthday boy or girl wakes up on their day; making a unique (and embarrassing) “family noise” when family members only were in a closed elevator; celebrating quarter-birthdays with a quarter of a cupcake, and half-birthdays with half a birthday cake; a party for the first lost baby tooth and the last lost baby tooth; a special dinner on the first night of school and on the last night of school – and there are, of course, an infinite number of others. It doesn’t matter so much what the “little traditions” are, but just that we have them and observe them. The two key elements of all traditions, big and little alike, are repetition and anticipation. Observe the traditions often enough that they are fun, not so often that they become routine and boring, and then kids will anticipate the traditions in the minutes, days and hours leading up to the moment. Waiting for the elevator, hoping no one outside the family gets in, and then waiting for the doors to finally close with the family inside are as much fun as the noise everyone makes once you and your family are alone.
After the radio taping, David, the producer/sound engineer, told me that the traditions discussion reminded him of a favorite “little tradition” that he and his family observed. They grew up at 1122 Spruce Street (address changed for anonymity), so from childhood until today, whenever more than one member of the family is together at 11:22 a.m., or 11:22 p.m., they look at each other, raise their hands, and say “woo-hoo!”. Now grown, they still notice 11:22 each day, and say a muted “woo-hoo” even if they are alone. And last year, David’s sister texted him “woo-hoo” at exactly 11:22 one morning when she happened to be looking at the clock precisely at the right hour.
Little traditions make big memories. www.noregretsparenting.com