Resolutions –> No. Traditions –> Yes.
As we start another new year, it is common for us to think about new changes. It’s strange how the new year catapults us to consider so many new things. However, most of us aren’t great at keeping up with our resolutions. I love that we want to be better, but it is often challenging to maintain any new habit – particularly since many of us shoot for the stars with multiple new changes as resolutions.
Instead, this year, what if you focused away from resolutions and onto something else?
I recently attended the funeral of my great aunt. She was the last of her generation to pass away, which left many of us reflecting on her legacy and that of her siblings. I created a short list of what her generation taught me and what I remembered most about her. I found myself continuing to come back to those traditions I had with my grandfather and great aunts. I remembered how we had huge family gatherings at the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving. I remembered how my grandfather would always sing Italian music while dancing around our small, family-owned restaurant. I remembered how food, laughter, and loudness would always permeate our best family discussions.
And I began wondering how my children might remember me. Perhaps this isn’t a thought you have had yet. But I know it is one that will be important to most of us at some point. Perhaps we focus on that this year instead of resolutions?
I believe creating a legacy involves two things. First, making words matter for good. And second, creating traditions your children will remember for a lifetime.
Making words matter… for good.
My philosophy is to use effective communication strategies with my kids so they can clearly understand our expectations, but also know how to communicate themselves later in life. This means making sure each word we speak has a purpose, and that we speak words that have purpose – for good. Our words have the power to heal, care, love, uplift, encourage, support, and compliment. Our words also have the power to hurt, demean, belittle, argue, and hate. I am certain all of us have heard about the power of words. But so frequently, I witness adults around me using words in ways that are not “for good.” In fact, each day, I catch myself reflecting on some of my own word choices. Consider something someone said to you that was hurtful? Have you ever had someone say something that made you feel belittled? I am guessing it is not hard for you to remember those times. It’s unfortunate how we can so quickly remember the negative words of others.
So how will you use your words today?
Consider taking on the challenge of making sure your words are always used for healing. Find ways to use words that are caring and loving. When you see your child or spouse, use words that are uplifting and encouraging. Remember how it felt when someone supported and complimented you? What would it be like if you focused on only used words that made others feel that way?
Once and for all (the other way of interpreting “for good” in making words matter for good), could we make words matter in a way that makes others feel those positive things? And perhaps we all live more closely to the saying, “If you don’t have something nice to say, say nothing at all.”
Again I ask, how will you use your words?
Creating traditions your children will remember for a lifetime.
I love traditions. Now that I am an adult, it is those traditions that I remember most about my childhood.
- I remember how every Saturday, my mother would work (she was a stay-at-home-mom throughout the week) and that left dad in charge. That meant Jiffy blueberry pancakes for breakfast, and beans and weenies (with A1 sauce) for lunch. Every Saturday.
- I remember how every year on Christmas Eve morning, my mother would pack up trays of cookies to be delivered in-person to all of our neighbors.
- I remember how my mother would play Christmas music early in the morning while she cooked breakfast around the holiday.
- I remember how my grandmother would have a giant bowl of Jujubes candy in her room and when we would visit, she would be sure to give us a hand full!
Of course, I remember family vacations and other meaningful moments from childhood. But it is the simple traditions that really stand out for me when someone asks about my family.
According to Merriam-Webster, tradition is defined as “the handing down of information, beliefs, or customs from one generation to another.” How will you “hand down” your beliefs to your children? My children and I now deliver handmade pizzas to our neighbors on Christmas Eve morning. We have pancakes for breakfast. I love Christmas music. While all of these examples seem simple, and even corny, this is precisely what traditions are. If you think about what your parents “always did”, I bet you will find ways that you also do some of those things. Perhaps it is time to be sure we are purposeful with how we behave so we can have intentional traditions for our kids. What traditions do you have for your family? Are there other ideas that you would like to incorporate? Create a plan to do that this year!
I believe we create a legacy by planting seeds everyday by using words for good. Those words build our children into the grown-ups we want them to be. Then the traditions are how they understand how to live their lives, that carry out the family’s beliefs and customs to the next generation.
Instead of resolutions, how about new (or continued) traditions?