Last week I spent a hot, sweaty afternoon combing the covered bazaar of our Middle Eastern City in search of an elusive goal: a silver Tiffany bracelet with a heart charm. Finally, at 6:00p.m., I found a merchant who had one hidden in the back of her crowded store. After 20 minutes of hard bargaining, the bracelet was mine. Obviously it was a look alike, considering where I bought it. Still, it was silver and beautiful, and when I saw my daughter’s face on her birthday morning, the hard search seemed worth it.
In their book Sticky Faith, Kara Powel and Chap Clark give practical ideas on how to encourage kids to develop a personal faith that will last their lifetimes. One idea that intrigues me is the importance of special occasions and family rituals. Celebrating birthdays, holidays, and even having significant daily rituals can be an important way to affirm the identity of each family member and reinforce family culture and community.
We celebrated two family milestones in August: our children’s baptism and my daughter’s birthday.
Woo hoo! Let’s have a party!
When my children decided they wanted to be baptized, my husband and I chose to celebrate in order to mark a rite of passage, the decision they made about their faith. So a party we did have, complete with invitations, 45 friends, food, and favors for the guests. Andres and Camille helped plan the event and chose music for it. After the baptisms, many friends prayed for them and gave them gifts. One thoughtful friend brought silver rings, which they now wear to commemorate their decision.
Camille’s 14th birthday gave us another excuse to celebrate. This year we had a mother-daughter-sister breakfast. Camille chose the menu, I cooked, and her dad decorated with balloons and ribbons. We had a lovely morning. Something I did spontaneously turned out to be an important highlight for her. I passed out index cards and gel pens and asked people to write words or phrases that came to mind when they thought of Camille. Later she was so encouraged to read the cards our friends had written.
Celebrations are a way of creating family identity and culture and saying to each member, “You are important.” They can be elaborate or simple. My mother loved celebrating holidays. I still remember getting a little pot of shamrocks next to my plate at breakfast on St. Patrick’s Day.
Birthdays and anniversaries are obvious reasons to celebrate, but your family can make a special occasion out of any event, such as:
The Opening of Football Season
The First Day of Spring
Family Day: Sally Clarkson describes her lovely tradition of celebrating a yearly family day on her blog, I Take Joy.
August is over, and this mama’s done with parties for a while. She had fun, but she’s also breathing a sigh of relief.
What’s the next occasion you’re going to celebrate? Do you have any traditions unique to your family?