Thursday, October 23, 2014

Traditions Are Your Trademark - Day 19

We celebrated a birthday at our house today.  This was the 83rd time our family has pulled out the birthday candles and Happy Birthday sign to make a big deal about one of our kids.  I'm not joking people.  I counted them up and that's how many birthdays we've had here.

I spent the day doing things I always do, fulfilling the Florida family birthday traditions.  It's funny how solid these things become over do something once or twice and before you know it, it's risen out of the mist as a full-fledged tradition.  You know it has become a tradition when it's absence produces a guttural cry of outrage from your children!  It usually sounds something like this, "But we aaalwwayys do it!!"

It's funny how many traditions spring up on their own and become something tangible before you realize they're a thing.  Another curiosity about traditions is that their existence isn't based on meaning or content.  The dictionary definition of tradition only requires a thing to be handed-down, feel customary or characteristic of a group of people or be a thing that is long-established.  Something, no matter how silly or innocuous, can quickly gain tradition power just by being repeated.

I used to feel bound and locked into more "shoulds" and "duties" whenever a new tradition took shape out of the mist.  "Oh great!"  I thought.  "Another thing that's going to be expected of me....another way I can fail.  Just. Great!'  Not a very sparkly Momma attitude.  The amount of self-talk I have to sometimes do to work myself into "Fun Mom" mode can be epic.

Traditions have a back side though, my friends....a secret power built in to even the most mundane and silliest of them.

Traditions are your family's trademark, your brand. 

The things you do over and over hand down to your children a sense of belonging to something that is a real thing.  It helps them know who they are and have something to be proud of...or lovingly roll their eyes at.

Learning to embrace those traditions we stumbled into through the back door has created some of our best moments.  It's made us become:

The Floridas - the family who.....
  • heads to McDonald's for ice cream cones after every choir concert, no matter how late it is on a school night.
  • grills up a pile of grilled cheese and grilled peanut butter sandwiches Every. Single. Sunday. Night for whoever happens to be in or near our house.
  • yells "Hot-diggety-dog" whenever we drive past a house decked out for Christmas in lights and decorations.
  • buys a new piece for our Christmas Nativity scene each year so it grows and grows like my Momma's did.
  • turns the football game on every Sunday afternoon whether someone's watching it or not because that's what Sunday afternoons should sound like.
  • hangs streamers across the birthday kid's bedroom door 
  • let's their kids run barefoot out to the road and back every time we get a big snow just to prove their toughness.
  • feeds their toddlers Popsicles in the bathtub.
  • recites "Highs & Lows" from the day at dinner.
  • huddles under the Christmas tree before Daddy cuts the rope holding the branches together so we can all enjoy the rush of cold air that was caught in inside.

Learn to harness the power of traditions in your family!  They make you who you are and give your family a trademark.....they're handles your kids use to get a firm grip on who they are.  When you stumble upon something fun, ride that horse to death!  Do it every year and make it one of your things.....especially if it's easy and/or cheap!  And include your kids' friends in the fun.  Nothing feels more cozy than to add one more and hear your kid explain, "This is how we always do it."

Maybe you're the family who always heads to the beach on the last day of school to celebrate the fist day of summer - relish that car full of sand!

Maybe you're the mom with the blue afro and painted face on the middle school bleachers cheering for you son - rock it out Mom and make your son blush!

Maybe you're the family who has a crab leg dinner every Christmas with the grandparents - do your bibs and butter with gusto!

Maybe you're the family who sings a particular song at the top of your lungs to mark the beginning or a road trip - sing till you're hoarse, baby!

Live you trademark!  Be who your family is!  Don't make your kids wait for big holidays and well-planned events to feel that intimate, homey feeling of being us.  Let your kids feel the celebration as often as you can.  Next time one of your kids says, "But we always do that!"  it's time for a fist pump!  Make it happen if you can and mark it down as a new tradition, a newly discovered facet of your particular family trademark!

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