A tradition isn’t necessarily centuries, or even decades, old. A tradition can be something done enough to become a valued part of someone or “someones.” Traditions are the unique signature of a family, marks of one being connected to a bigger “us.”

Traditions can be annual: the first-week-of-June beach trip, finding a Christmas tree the Sunday after Thanksgiving, or a husband buying a wife a brand-new dual-bag vacuum cleaner for Christmas. (On second thought, skip that last one. I tried it … once.) Traditions can be monthly: a first Sunday-of-the-month family breakfast out (or a kids-picked restaurant) or a Saturday-morning visit to the library to store up books for the month. Weekly: a Friday-night-at-home movie and popcorn. Daily: the piggyback ride to bed, complete with prayers, story, and tucking in. My daughter Liz thinks our family traditions are nonnegotiable, judging by how incessantly she nags for the next one.

Anything done regularly can rapidly become a tradition. The family knows it’s predictable, anticipated it, and spends time talking about its details and how it should be structured. A tradition is people-glue. It forms memories. It helps solidify a family’s identity: This activity we share together is a reliable sign of who we are.

Raising Good Kids: Back to Family Basics Pages 24-25
Copyright © 2011, Dr. Ray Guarendi
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