The story I’m working on right now has a thirteen year old girl named Jane, who grew up in a foundling home and foster homes. In one scene, my main character, Ruby is reading Jane Hans Brinker or The Silver Skates. She explains about how she’d read that the author had never been to the Netherlands, but had learned all about customs and traditions of the country from a neighbor.
Jane has no concept of cultural or family traditions, which got me to thinking how many things we take for granted. Families are one thing we accept as part of our everyday normal lives, until we see someone without one–or someone living far from their family. We have a friend who is in America to go to school and work and his entire family is in Africa. Because he’s working toward a better future, he hasn’t seen his children or is wife for a long time.
Most of us have traditions, like decorating the Christmas tree together, movie and pizza on Friday night, a specific birthday cake, fishing on the Fourth of July. Families who have rituals have the strongest ties, because of the sense of continuity and memory building.
In 2000 the University of Wyoming shared 5 reasons to celebrate family life. By understanding these reasons, we can increase our efforts and realize the importance of daily life within our family.
1) Time to relate or communicate with one another. Caring, problem solving, balancing individual and together time are also part of this time to understand one another’s needs, goals and challenges in life. Help in adapting to new stages of development, crisis or the flow of events.
2) Things like learning a new hobby, caring for a family member, planning a weekly schedule together, learning a new skill like meal preparation or grocery shopping, or establishing a signal to ease transitions like a hand sign to say, “You have 5 more minutes.”
3) A time to heal and forgive from a loss or disappointment in life. Using this time to talk about the good times and tell stories. Time to spend together as a sign of cooperation and reconciliation.
4) Time to affirm family values, faith and life experiences. The materials we read to reinforce our faith. The crafts, decorations or special things we do related to holidays or special family events. The time we spend sharing with others outside our family for those in need.
5) A time to celebrate together. The special events in our lives including holidays and special accomplishments by family members.
One tradition that has developed over the past several years is our Thanksgiving photo of the females. Sometimes one or two aren’t there; sometimes it’s the whole gang together, but we always do our group photo. The outtakes can often be more fun than the actual finished portrait. This year was so cold and windy we couldn’t go outside and the indoor lighting was poor, so we traveled all over my daughter’s house looking for a good spot. We never found one, but we laughed a lot.
How have your family traditions evolved over the years?
A CHRISTMAS STORY COMING IN DECEMBER
an ebook release
Charlie McGraw never should have bought the angel book for his precocious daughter. Because then Meredith wouldn’t be convinced that getting a new mommy was as simple as having an “angel” sprinkle him with her “miracle dust.” And she never would have believed the beautiful blond-haired woman who drove a truck called the “Silver Angel” was some treetop angel come to life.
Starla Richards was no angel. But try telling that to a five-year-old who was so starved for a mother’s love that she’d stowed away on Starla’s rig. Or convincing herself that miracles just didn’t happen to ordinary people when Starla found herself snowbound with a handsome, caring widower and his adorable daughter….
Revised for the Heartwarming line from a previous SIM edition, Charlie’s Angels