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32 Small Traditions to Start With Your Family


Nov. 14, 2018 Fatherly

These shared rituals can happen during the holidays or every day and offer something to not only look forward to now but also look back on later. In a chaotic and confusing world, sometimes, a little consistency can be exactly what we all need. Here, then, are 32 small traditions to consider starting with your family.

Tell A Story Every Night

Storytelling — the act of piecing together characters and plot and settings from thin air — is a skill that is woefully underemphasized. Put it back in the curriculum after the lights go out. Before sleep sets in, weave a narrative that has vivid details, plots, and morals — or settle on one that wanders aimlessly and falls into absurdity. The point is to make it up, take the narrative where your imagination leads, and enjoy the places it takes you.

Have a Winter Novel

Every winter, hunker down and bust out a family favorite chapter book — The Hobbit, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, orCharlie and the Chocolate Factory are all solid options. After all, when the light wains and the cold days set in, there’s nothing better than a warm book.

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Celebrate Santa Coming to Town

“We don’t pay much attention to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade — until the very end, when Santa comes to town. We turn up the volume and the whole family will whoop and yell to celebrate Santa’s arrival, yelling “Santa!” Then we put on the first Christmas movie of the season — Miracle on 34th Street (the 1947 version), which starts with the parade and Santa coming to town.” –Christine Hnath

Give Your Kids Spare Change

You know those machines with the bouncy ball? The weird horse outside the supermarket? The Salvation army bucket? Let your kid in on the action. Always carry spare change and don’t hesitate to hand it over. You’ll get a smile out of it — and it won’t cost you more than 50 cents.

Visit a Christmas Tree

A giant sequoia in Kings Canyon National Park was dubbed the Nation’s Christmas Tree by President Calvin Coolidge in 1926. If you’re in the Sierras, drive up to the park, get hot cocoa from the visitors center, trudge around in the snow for an hour, and then go home. If you aren’t a mountain dweller, choose the most majestic wild pine on public lands near your home and do the same. Tell your kids the story of Coolidge’s sequoia. They won’t know that the tree before them is any less larger than life.

Leave A Birthday Voicemail

There are birthday gifts, cards, and then there’s the birthday voicemail. Because it’s recorded, it can be louder, goofier, and more joyous than a real-time phone conversation.

Santa Inspection

“Before coming downstairs Christmas morning, all us kids had to line up on the stairs. Dad told us we had to wait while he went downstairs to check to ‘make sure that Santa came last night’.  He would disappear downstairs for a while then would return telling us that indeed Santa had come, and that we could proceed downstairs to claim our toys. Now that I’m a Dad, and I do the same thing, I know that he was just buying some time to start the coffee machine and get the beer bottles cleaned up for the pictures.” –Alex Ridings

Play Touch Football on Thanksgiving

The game is played around the country for a reason. A massive meal is coming, so get outside and play.

Have Dinner, Give Thanks

Having dinner as a family provides structure and a sense of community. Giving thanks expands on that idea of community and builds empathy. Given all this, why do we combine these two things only on holidays? Have dinner together every day, and give thanks before digging in.

Throw A Never-Ending Game of Wiffle Ball

“I have been playing what is ostensibly the same game of wiffle ball against my father and my childhood neighbor since 1995. We try to play at least a few innings every year. We all have bad shoulders.” –Andrew Burmon

Plan a Ditch Day

Every holiday and day off of school is planned, to a fault. Make room for your kids by setting aside a day where you take them out of school for the fun and bonding.

Make a Takeout Night a Thing

Takeout night should be something everyone looks forward to. Rotate who picks the restaurant, set the table in a certain  special way, and make an event out of it. Oh, and to make it properly special, make sure you only get takeout once a month. It’ll save you money too.

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