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Sunday, March 19, 2006

Creating New Family Traditions through Vacations

Image: Me (I’m the little guy) my older brother and two younger sisters. Taken on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Rocky Knob in the summer of 1961.

As a child, my parents started something that has stayed with me and my siblings through the years, and even though my wife and I have no children, we have helped my brother and sisters and their children keep the vacation traditions that my parents started alive.

What my parents did was simple; they took us to the mountains on camping trips. We would travel the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive and stop at favorite campgrounds. We had campfires at night where we would sit around telling stories, singing and roasting marshmallows and hotdogs. As children it was easy to make friends in the campgrounds, and my parents made life long friends who would all meet at a favorite campground every year for a vacation get together.

We often have certain things we always do, or traditions, epically during the holidays. Most families probably have traditions that take place throughout the year; but how about vacations? You can help to build wonderful memories and traditions, which your children will be thrilled to share with their children through vacations. Research shows that these traditions are important in building strong family relationships between generations.

Traditions are stories, beliefs, rituals and customs that are passed from one generation to the next. Keeping traditions for the holidays as well as the ordinary days help teach children the things their family values. These traditions help fill the individual's need to belong. Being a part of the special things our family does, helps us to have that sense of belonging.

Research shows us that routines and traditions are part of healthy families. Traditions give security to young people, providing a sense of continuity and routine that they can depend on year after year. Such activities help promote healthy relationships between the generations when they are enjoyed and anticipated by everyone. Children will remember the special experiences of family traditions more than toys and gifts.

To make family traditions more memorable, take the time to talk about the special things your family does and why it is important to you. Include the children in planning and carrying out the special activities. This will give them a feeling of pride and belonging to actually be a part of the traditions. It also helps them to understand why your family does these special things. If traditions are a part of your religious or cultural heritage, it gives the young people a sense of their family history.

Sometimes, as our families change, our traditions change with us, and that is all right. For example, you can still have the family all get together for a time of sharing and a special meal, but the place or the menu might change over the years. Or, perhaps now you use disposable dishes instead of Grandma's china. The important thing is that you get together as a family to share memories and pass on the family traditions and values.

Traditions help to bind us together as a family. Make it a point this year to include your children in family traditions that will provide them with a sense of belonging and build memories for their future.

Take them camping; bring them to the mountains and build vacation memories and traditions with your children!

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