Monday Mindset: Winning the Week in Work & Life
“Traditions are not about creating the perfect family. They’re about creating a sense of belonging that help us through the differences, disappointments and difficult times and stick together through it all”.
Traditions are powerful. They create context for our lives, give us a sense of belonging and community, allow us to share our values, tell and re-tell our stories and create our family culture. As I’ve said many times that our culture is created by default or design. We do it intentionally or unintentionally. Either way we have a culture. Traditions help us to create our culture intentionally.
We live in a small town in North Idaho called Coeur d’Alene. It’s a beautiful little community on the edge of Lake Coeur d’Alene. After 20 years my wife and I still look at each other and say, “Can you believe we live here”. Shortly after moving here we started a tradition with my sister and her family. They would come over every Thanksgiving.
We created some great traditions with them. One of them was attending our local parade, fireworks and Christmas lighting. When we started, our kids were ages 4-13. It was so much fun, but as they got older they grew less interested and eventually started lives of their own.
Friday my wife and I went with our son and his wife to the parade. It was a beautiful night. It was chilly, but not too cold. As we were walking there my son was telling his wife all about it, how awesome it was, what to expect and how the evening would go.
He said, “It was so much fun coming down here every year with our cousins”. He went on to tell her all about all the things we did Thanksgiving weekend and how much fun it was. You could tell it was a special time for him. I loved listening to him re-live that weekend and to know how much it meant to him.
Life is about creating memories because in the end it’s all we have. Traditions help us do that. I didn’t have traditions growing up. I come from a very dysfunctional home. My dad left us when I was 10 and my mom had to work a lot to support 5 kids. She was awesome and I have a great appreciation for her example. She is one of the hardest working and strongest people I’ve ever known. But, we did not have any traditions. For me, it’s one of the reasons the Thanksgiving tradition was so special with my sister and her family. We were creating them for us and our families. We were able to do this for 8 years and the memories hold a special place for everyone.
Creating traditions and building your family culture:
Get on the same page:
My wife’s family grew up with traditions and I saw how powerful they were so I wanted to be intentional about making them with my family. We were on the same page about the importance of them and that helped make them happen. You won’t always feel like doing them, but you do them anyway. Being on the same page helps with that.
Decide what’s important:
Early on we decided celebrating, supporting and encouraging was really important. Once we decided that we figured out what we could do to create a tradition. We made a big deal out of special moments, days and events.
For instance, on birthdays my wife bought a special birthday plate. It was the first thing they saw when they looked at the table. It was just a little thing, but they all looked forward to seeing that plate on their day and so did I. We still have that plate.
Get creative with this. It could be something you do after games, at the end or the beginning of the school year, for holidays or vacations. When my kids turned 13 I took them on a trip to Washington DC and New York. It was just me and them. It was so much fun and each trip was different. Now, 17 years later, they still talk about their trips because they were all different.
Determine what you want to leave behind?
For us the most import thing we want to leave behind is the belief that family is everything, people matter and giving is more important than receiving. This is what goes into our traditions.
Now that our family is growing and we have our first grandson, Landon Chase, we are adjusting old and creating new traditions.
It’s time for our kids to create traditions with their families. So, we are looking and thinking. Just a few minutes ago my wife looked at me and said, “A family sleigh ride”. Great idea. That’s going to be something we add this year.
Traditions are not about creating the perfect family. It’s about creating a sense of belonging that help us through the differences, disappointments and difficult times and stick together through it all.
I’d love to hear your traditions?