As my daughters grow up, now just old enough to have permanent memories, I find myself thinking a lot about tradition. What habits and family customs do I want to adopt from my own parents? What rituals will bring my wife, my daughters and I closer together? What will little Lily-Rose and Violet cherish enough to carry on to their own future families?
Traditions are an important part of family life. Research shows maintaining customs makes families stronger and more stable, and gives children a feeling of comfort and security, according to Dr. Susan Coady, who studies family relations at Ohio State University.
But I don’t simply want to build traditions for traditions’ sake. I want to think about how I can use these family rituals to fulfill my pledge to live WE, to make a difference with my actions every day.
Here are some ideas to start a tradition that gives back — from my family to yours.
Make ‘giving plates.’ I think this bake-and-take activity could become a family favorite. Once a month, decorate some inexpensive ceramic plates with food-safe paints. We’ll have a family baking session to fill the plate with goodies. Finally, my family and I will share our gift with new or isolated neighbors, sick or stressed friends, or even the mail carrier or bus driver.
Empty-the-closets day. Lily Rose is outgrowing clothes faster than I can keep up. I regularly ransack the family wardrobes for unwanted, gently used apparel. I’ll bag it up and we’ll make a family trip to the local Salvation Army or Goodwill store to donate our duds. I might even bring some of the leftover home-made treats for the hard-working volunteers there, as well.
The family that gives together, stays together.
Family film night. On the weekend, fire up the popcorn maker and park the family in front of Netflix. Instead of the latest Star Wars installment, choose a family-friendly film with a social message like The Lorax, a fun story with a message about environmental conservation. Afterwards, in our house, my wife and I will discuss the issues in the film with our eldest, and ask her how the characters took action and what actions the family can take for a related cause.
Red letter day. Every so often, I’ll sit down with the family to pick a cause we care about. Together, Roxanne, Lily-Rose and I will compose a joint letter to take action on the issue. We might write to our Member of Parliament about climate change, or support an Amnesty International campaign to free political prisoners.
And when you take the WE Pledge as a family, you’ll get access to great resources like: the WE Are Canada Families Guide, with 150 inspiring ways to celebrate Canada; and the WE Families Kit which includes items like our book The World Needs Your Family, gratitude cards for showing your appreciation to the special people in your life, and ME to WE rafikis for the whole family.
I hope you’ll adopt some of these traditions for your own family. Because the family that gives together, stays together.