Our pirate dinner and other made-up family traditions
I was reading on the Happiness Project blog that studies show that traditions are quite important to family happiness. In fact, family rituals encourage children’s social development and boost feelings of family cohesiveness by 17%. They help provide connection and predictability, which people–especially children–crave. Without traditions, holidays don’t feel much different from ordinary life. And they’re a lot of fun.
But who says you have to wait for Halloween or Easter to make something a tradition? One of ours is the last day of school when we hold a Burning of the Agenda Books and Homework ceremony. I had about a dozen kids hooting at the sight of the huge fire they had burning in our outdoor chiminea last year. Burn baby burn. This is the last week of school and I've already been asked by several kids if we will be burning the homework again. Of course, it's a tradition!
As I was reading the comments section of the blog post about tradition, I saw the idea of having a Pirate Dinner.
The food is dumped on the table and everyone eats with their hands. When I mentioned the idea to my family, their eyes lit up. They loved the idea. (Yes, I live with a pack of wolves). My husband made a Low Country Boil for for our Pirate Dinner. It's a flavorful broth in which you cook shrimp, sausage, new potatoes and corn. Because there was so much food I had invited a couple friends to come by and join us. I had forgotten to tell them it was going to be a pirate dinner, but when they found out upon arrival, they loved the idea too.
There was lots of pirate talk and I actually got my 9 year old to willingly eat green salad for the first time because he was able to eat the lettuce with his hands. So this is a tradition I'm sure will be coming back. Other ideas I've read about include Polite Night, Pajama Day, a Make Your Own Pizza Night, etc.
Just as I was thinking about this, across my desk comes a newly revised version of Meg Cox's popular book. The Book of New Family Traditions. Cox makes a compelling and user-friendly case for finding traditions in the everyday, and also using them to remind ourselves how important our family and friends are to us. I love the idea of the adoptive family's daughter having both a birthday and a Gotcha Day, as in they celebrate "the day we gotcha." How sweet!
So how about you readers? What are some of your made up family traditions of special days or nights you've created that are sure to make long-term memories?
--Sharon Kennedy Wynne
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