I learned the importance of having family rituals when my son, Jourdan, was a little boy. After our divorce, my ex-husband became estranged from the two of us, so Father's Day was tough. To ease the pain, my son and I began celebrating "Grandfather's Day" in honor of my dad. We couldn't visit him (he lived on the other side of the country), but we spent hours making cards and gifts to send in the mail. After we finished our projects, we'd go out for a special meal and make a toast to Grandpa.
Jourdan and I also created a "last day" ritual to mark the end of school, the close of camp, the final game of the soccer season. We'd take time out of our hectic lives and sit quietly over a candlelit pizza dinner, reflecting on what Jourdan would miss about the experience now that it was over. These dinners were a way to mark an ending, to give closure to a part of his life.
Every family needs such rituals -- special days, celebrations, and ceremonies to help you slow down and savor the moments of your life. Rituals are a way to connect, reflect, and show appreciation for things you might otherwise overlook. Sometimes rituals have a somber or even spiritual overtone, but they don't have to. They can just as easily be fun and whimsical.
Families can fashion their own rituals for everything from the most mundane experiences -- like eating a meal or taking a bath -- to the most profound, such as a ceremony to mark the death of a pet or the birth of a sibling. The best are those that you create uniquely for your family and that reflect your values and ideals. Here, some ideas to inspire you.
Copyright © 2004. Reprinted with permission from the October 1999 issue of Parents magazine.