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EAST COAST MOMMY: The importance of family traditions and rituals

Gina Bell loves the idea of putting together a simple movie night snack board.
Gina Bell loves the idea of putting together a simple movie night snack board. - Gina Bell

Focus on family

When my kids were very little, I read an article in a magazine that talked about family traditions and rituals being the cornerstones of childhood memories. It really resonated with me, and since then, I have tried to create special traditions for my family whenever I have gotten the chance. There is something very comforting about knowing what to expect and always having something to look forward to.

Of course, creating traditions around holiday celebrations (like New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas) is common, but important childhood milestones provide an excellent opportunity to make memories, too. For example, I always make a last day of school finish line for my boys to run through, we spend every summer working our way through a summer checklist that we write together, and I make pancakes in the shape of my boys’ ages and serve milk in wine glasses on their birthdays. These are simple ideas, but they are wonderful ways to mark milestones and make them memorable.

Creating family rituals doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated. The best way to make something memorable is to repeat it often, so often simple activities are preferable. Try easy things like having tacos for supper every Tuesday, baking the same cookie recipe together once a month, sitting at the table for an afterschool snack and chat each day, going to a farmers’ market every Saturday, reading a story before bed every night, playing board games together on Sunday nights, etc. Look at your family’s interests and schedules and pick something that works for you.

Family vacations also provide an excellent opportunity for creating memories. Staycations are fun, and more elaborate trips can be extra special. Renting the same cottage annually or travelling with the same family members or friends are both wonderful ways to make vacations unforgettable.

My family’s all-time favourite family tradition is “Friday Night Family Movie Night”. Every Friday night, we have pancakes for supper, and then we sit down to watch a movie together. We cuddle up on the coach in our PJs, we have a “no electronic devices allowed” rule, and we serve popcorn and treats. Sometimes, we just microwave popcorn, but other times we put up a few decorations and serve special goodies.

I love the idea of putting together a simple movie night snack board. It’s a different (sweet and salty) take on a traditional charcuterie board. To make a movie night snack board, start with a dollar store tray, cover it with popcorn, and insert little bowls of goodies. Use different-coloured treats for variety and visual interest. Custom treats help transform a simple activity (like movie night) into a special occasion.

Family traditions and rituals are about spending time together and making memories… not about Pinterest worthy perfection. Pick a couple of fun activities and repeat them over and over with the ones you love. When your kids are older, they will treasure the memories created by the rituals and traditions from their childhood.

Gina Bell writes the East Coast Mommy column, which runs every second week. Follow her blog at www.EastCoastMommy.com or contact her at eastcoastmommy@gmail.com.


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