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Creating a Family Culture
Do you have a dear friend that you truly admire?? What is it about them that you admire?? I asked myself these questions lately as I watched my buddy with her family. What was it about her that I liked or wanted so much?? And it came down to this realization- I absolutely adore her focus on her family and creating a family culture. Family culture I find is such a funny term because unfortunately, it is not used often enough in our society. But it is such an important aspect that if you stick around here for a while you will start to see why I start to drop it everywhere you look. Family culture is the family recipe that you make to keep your family close knit and together. So what are some of those ingredients in that recipe? It would be your holidays and traditions. What do you do every year for Christmas? Easter? Birthdays?? It is those Family week rituals that you complete and perform. Those Friday night Popcorn movie parties. Reading three stories before bed, reading scriptures, saying prayers and singing songs together. Family culture includes those habits that your family does that other people come to kind of expect from your family. For us on Sundays I always color match with my girls. I didn’t do it one week and it was really weird, because it became one of our traditions or things we just do. I also had a couple of moms who I normally don’t talk to comment on my color matching. Funny people watch what you do ALL the time.
So Why is Creating a Family Culture Important?
When my girls were hit with the disclosure of their trauma, the counselor who worked with us talked about creating a strong family culture. And when I first heard those words I was like what? huh? what does that even mean family culture?! But as I have dived deeper into what it truly is I love what family culture is. It is SO important for your family because it is the glue that keeps your babies close even when they have grown.
I didn’t realize it at the time but every friendship that I sought after since the time that I was a little girl were families who had strong family cultures. They had predictable traditions and routines that they followed. Things that they just always did that made you wish (and maybe sometimes covet) that you were part of their family. I don’t know why but it seems like families with more children are stronger with their family culture. Maybe it is because they have had more time to practice! ha ha!
But let’s start with all the families I have admired.
The Family of 8
The first family I’ll talk about has 8 kids in their family. I made friends with their second youngest daughter at the age of three and we are still friends to this day. But there are some really specific special traditions that this family had that I truly loved, admired, wished and hoped that my family had. Growing up in a single parent household allowed us many opportunities to be with this family because they would invite us into some of their family traditions. Being in their family felt magical as they did things. I don’t know if it was because this is through the eyes of a child or if it was because the spirit of Christmas truly rings true in a child’s heart but I remember always the magic that I felt being in that family. I remember in particular one Christmas that we got to go with this family to a live nativity pageant. We huddled together under blankets and watched the scene unfold as Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem where baby Jesus was born. And after that we went caroling to families that they had prayed about visiting. After caroling, we returned to their house where they pulled out a special Christmas binder. The mom gathered us around her as she read a scripture about Baby Jesus being born and then read a beautiful Christmas story that left the adults quietly dabbing at their eyes. It is one of my most cherished Christmas memories as a child.
Other times it was fun to be in their house as the siblings all preformed musical numbers together. They would make up dances and performances that they would show the older siblings and parents. As our childhood grew into the teenage years, I remember going to special birthdays where the older sibling would give the birthday sibling a special teenage survival kit. In it would include things for a first big activity (for them it was at the age of 14 to go to dances) that they could use or need. In this survival kit for my friend was hair clips, gum, a new toothbrush, a hairbrush, a shirt, some body spray, and some other fun goodies. I really remember that also being a fun family tradition that they had that I loved.
The Family of 7
Another special family for me was one where I was friends with more than one sibling. In reality I spent lots of my teen years with this family that I felt I had created special friendships with the whole family. But I really admired the amazing ideas this mom put into this family. I remember one year they started their own candy store in the basement where they could use their own allowance money to buy candy. From the money that they saved they went on a family trip that they had been saving up for for years.
At Christmas time the mom would make all the children matching dresses and vests for Christmas which they would wear for the Christmas Devotional that the church has each start of December. Other times it was a TV free month. Other times they would always do quiet time in their rooms after lunch. I loved going into the siblings rooms to see what they were doing. Some would be making artist trading cards. Others would be making up a dance to perform for the siblings. Other times it would be writing stories, working on a painting or a drawing. It was amazing to see all the creativity that this family came up with. I loved it because it inspired me.
One fun memory that I have of this family when I had first met them is that we had an Egyptian party. I was invited to their house to mummify a barbie because they had learned about it in their homeschool curriculum that their mom was teaching. I remember asking my mom to help dress me up as an Egyptian and I tore over to this family’s home where we mummified a barbie and then buried it in their backyard.
Friends are Family that Heaven forgot to give us
My mom had many dear dear dear friends that stepped up and became our close family as my mom struggled through her divorce from my dad. I adopted many aunts this way and each brought with them another family culture that really helped me see the importance of family. One family we always did Sunday dinners with them for a really long time. It was like adopted cousins and we would mumble and grumble when we weren’t able to see them if plans got cancelled. Another family we always did New Years Day with them with their huge extended family. Again, another family that we were babysat by for quite a while I remember we would do special things such as those musical performances but this momma touched my heart mostly because I think her influence is truly my style in parenting and decorating and taking a billion pictures and videos of my girls. I share these experiences because I have come to realize that family culture doesn’t come from money or extravagant vacations. Rather, each family in their own way create special and sacred traditions because they are the glue that holds that family together.
In our home we still had the fun
Please, don’t get me wrong my family was fun too. For summers we would head off to my Grandma’s house that was three hours away and do many special activities that I cherish still to this day. We would go swimming at the local outdoor pool. We would pick apples from my Grandpa’s tree and help in the garden. We would make Crab Apple Jelly with my Grandma. Or Saskatoon Berry Jam. One year I remember my dear grandma taking us to pick these Saskatoon Berries down by the river that she had stumbled upon. She was so excited that she had found it, so off we went on an adventure to help her pick these berries only to discover that the reason those berries hadn’t been picked before by someone other than us is because it landed a top of a red ant hill. I remember these ants crawling all over us as we picked the berries as fast as we could and my grandma vowing to never take us there again. I remember all the canning we would do with my grandma and how special that was. We did it each and every summer until she passed away when I was 17. In realization now, our family culture seemed to piggyback ride off other families’ family traditions. I am grateful that my mom allowed us all these special opportunities because it is now helping me shape my family for exactly the traditions and rituals we want to have.
It is never too late to create the glue
I think of this past summer and seeing all the family we finally got to see after many years and I was so grateful because of the cherished memories we created with my parents. Another lesson I have just learned is that family culture is a thing that change and become a new fun family tradition. The fun thing is you get to choose. Linda and Richard Eyre at Values Parenting, speak a lot to the importance of family culture and traditions because they talk about how it helps center a child and keep them coming home. They share sweet stories about how they created a special thing for each family member’s birthday and for Richard (the dad) it was jumping in the leaves together every birthday. He talks about the first time he had children that were gone from home on his birthday and he received in the mail two leaves. One from each child that was not physically with him on his birthday.
I get choked up sharing these experiences, even the ones that aren’t mine, because children thrive and love routines and predictable traditions. There is a magic that comes from children and creating those special memories with them. Now I guess I am off to truly think about what family traditions and culture we can create! Finally, when it comes down to it creating a family culture is important because it is the glue that sticks us together and keeps us coming back because there is a magic that is there each and every year!!
Can you comment in the box below with some of your family traditions that are special to you and your posse?? Maybe I can make a cute printable for those families that are seeking out new family traditions or just creating their family culture!!
Because oh puh-lease!! You’ve got this momma!!