I met Sara at my new job and was instantly drawn to her magnetic personality. She has a vibrant spirit and an infectious attitude towards life. She also radiates beauty from the inside out. Having said that she has a great deal on her plate. She was working as a primary teacher while running a business with her husband on the side. She was also raising 5 boys!
When we were first getting to know each other, I quickly discovered that we both shared a strong sense of family values. I mentioned that I find sitting around the table together for a meal very important. This is a relatively easy task for me with only three children under twelve, but for Sara, it must be very challenging to round up five boys, under the age of 18 for family mealtime. I can’t even imagine the grocery bills! We both share similar ideas and feel that family time and communication is crucial, so I was curious to know how they find time to be together as a family.
“You are going to think it sounds silly,” she told me one day on playground duty.
“Come on, tell me,” I urged.
“Well, we have this little thing we do every Friday night and my parents come too.”
“What’s the thing?”
“I don’t want to say,” She responded laughing.
“Please”, I convinced her.
“Well, we all meet at the mall at the food court every Friday night. This means that everyone can choose whatever food they like and then we all eat together. My dad usually pays for it because he loves seeing us all together enjoying a meal and catching up on the week’s events. No one has to clean up and everyone is bonding together over a family dinner.”
“What a brilliant idea!” I exclaimed.
“You and your family have started your own family tradition.”
“I never thought of it that way,” Sara replied, thoughtfully. “Maybe you’re right.”
I went home that night thinking about my own little family traditions, like our regular Saturday family movie night. We all cuddle up together at home, watch a movie, eat popcorn, no matter how busy we are. We also have a secret picnic spot we frequently visit, just the five of us.
For me, traditions should be about bringing families closer together instead of being a rigid obligation passed down from generations. They should serve as a beautiful memory or an anchor when life throws curve balls. When I think back to my own childhood, my father took me on an expensive trip to Disneyland and sadly I can’t recall any details of that holiday now. I do, however, remember our Friday nights singing and playing guitar together with my family. It was a special time to commune around the warmth of a fire.
Whether it is an orthodox family tradition or not, the main thing is that it should be about genuinely connecting with our loved ones. But I will say this, I will never look at the local mall food court the same way again after meeting my friend Sara.