The Value of Family/Friends and Tradition
For many of us, friends and family members keep us grounded and give us a sense of belonging. For those of us who have supportive loved ones, we are secure in the knowledge that we can lean on them in both good times and bad. The value of family and friends is obvious, but we can also take it for granted. Do we think of them as often as we should? Do we spend as much time with them as we would like?
Making sure our loved ones are valued and finding reasons to spend time with them is part of what makes most of us establish, or carry on with, traditions within our family or friend groups. Traditions are any type of repeated practice. For example, gathering for a holiday meal is a time-honored tradition in most families. The following are some essential things to know about why traditions are important and the best ways to establish them.
Defining and Redefining Family
Before we can understand why family traditions are important, we have to understand what a family is. There is a problem with that, which is that our families are unique and ever-evolving. One technical definition of a family is a group of people who are related by blood, adoption, or marriage and living together. However, most of us would agree that family does not stop being family just because some of its members move away. For example, a child at college is still part of his or her family. Our families also expand as we move through life, such as through:
- Getting Married
- Having Children
- Having Grandchildren
Another thing to consider is most of us think of our close friends as family. In fact, friendships can often be stronger than blood ties. We don’t usually get the luxury of choosing our family members. Our friends are different. We have complete control over the friendships we decide to form, and especially the ones we decide to keep.
Establishing Group Traditions
Between our own families, in-laws, and friends, it is certainly possible to have multiple family groups. When life gets hectic, it can be hard for us to spend as much time with each of those groups as we need to or want to. Establishing traditions helps us make plans together. When we can’t gather, it gives us things to do to honor our loved ones and keep them in our thoughts. But what happens when those traditions conflict? Sometimes it can be difficult for us all to choose between traditions, such as when we get married and suddenly have the traditions of in-laws to consider. After such major life events, it often makes more sense for us to establish brand new traditions in a manner that brings everyone in the newly expanded group together in the same caring way.
Being Willing to Adapt Traditions When Necessary
Establishing and following through with traditions helps us all maintain connections to loved ones who are currently alive, as well as to those who have passed. Even so, we must adapt and update traditions sometimes, such as when our kids go off to college. The 2020 Coronavirus is another perfect example of cause for such changes. The crisis has forced many of us to stay physically distanced from loved ones. Video conferencing has helped keep adapted versions of our traditions going in the meantime.
Building Bonds and Making Memories Last
The most important thing is not what traditions we create. It isn’t even keeping those traditions precisely the same from year to year. In fact, doing so is often impossible as we get older or the world around us changes. Instead, the sentiments behind the traditions count the most. Gathering frequently, enjoying spending time together, and remembering the past are common sentiment threads that run through a lot of family or friend group traditions. Whenever we can create lasting positive memories with loved ones, we’re definitely participating in traditions worth carrying on, even if they have to be adapted a bit as time passes.
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