My mother-in-law has an interesting family tradition. Each month, she celebrates each of her children’s, their spouses, and her grandchildren’s birthdays in a special way. This she does by hosting family dinners. My mom-in-law is blessed with six children, three daughters-in-law, two sons-in-law, and eight grandchildren. Thankfully, there happens to be a birthday or two each month, meaning the entire family gathers at her house for a family dinner at least once every month.
These dinners are special times that we all look forward to because it is when we get to relax, be easy and enjoy the company of family. In the everyday hustle and bustle that city life is, it is absolutely refreshing to let your hair down and spend quality moments in the company of loved ones.
During these family dinners, we update each other on the goings on in our lives and our workplaces. We also get to relieve our individual childhood memories and have a good laugh about them. While I never got to meet my father-in-law because he passed on 18 years ago, I somehow feel like I know him already — courtesy of how his children collectively relieve their memories of him during the family dinners. All grown up with families of their own, his children have such fond memories of him and it’s always interesting to listen in. Indeed, his presence is always felt during each dinner.
The dinners are also times when my mum-in-law also shares with us tips on how to raise our children since we all have young families. At the end of the dinner, she routinely shares with us the scriptures and we end by holding hands and praying together as a family.
Last Friday, we had one of those dinners. And at the end of it, something my brother-in-law said struck me. He said that while mother has set her own family tradition, we too need to set our own individual family traditions.
As he said so, memories of my childhood flooded my mind. Whenever we closed school, my parents would promptly take us to the village to spend time with our grandparents. Aside from learning about village life and hearing stories of our forefathers, one of our favourite moments was sitting by the fireside and listening to our grandmother’s folklores — all of which had interesting moral lessons. Today, whenever we meet up with my siblings, we always relieve those interesting village moments.
So last Friday as I listened to my brother-in-law encourage us to create our own family traditions, I knew it was something I would take seriously. Currently, what we do in our home is pray together as a family each night before retiring to bed. I hope to create more family traditions as days go by.
The goodness of family traditions is that not only do they help members understand their lineage and their identity, but they also play a big role in strengthening a family’s bond because the value of face-face interaction can never be downplayed. In today’s hectic world, months or years can easily go by without family members seeing each other, and so intentionally creating a regular meeting schedule for family members can help resolve this.
Family traditions could be as simple or as complicated as you want them to be. They could be family dinners, watching a movie together as a family once a week, having Sunday lunch together, taking family vacations once a year, or travelling to a loved one’s gravesite once a year and thereafter sharing a meal together.
As years go by, and the children grow, then nature of family traditions may change a little according to the children’s ages. But the benefits of doing so are very rewarding, and your children and their children will always thank you for that. Remember it’s never too late; you can start your own family tradition today!
*As originally published in The Star.