American culture is packed with traditions. Some folks cook ham for Easter dinner, while other sing certain Christmas carols or bang pots and pans on New Year's Eve.
But these habits don't work for everyone. Differences in religion, region, age or simple preference can leave some fathers feeling left out. Fortunately, families are the perfect breeding ground for creating new traditions.
Kids are expert at recognizing trends and patterns. Pick the same dish for dinner two weeks in a row, and before you know it, the family will call it "Pizza Fridays." A smart dad can harness this energy and enlist their kids in molding new memes that are a perfect fit for their own unique family.
Here are five easy ways to create new traditions.
1. Seasons. Every year in the second or third week of November, my kids feel a slight let-down in that quiet gap between the Halloween candy sugar high and the eating festival of Thanksgiving. Our solution is the creative destruction of our rapidly rotting jack-o-lanterns. We carry the soft pumpkins from the front steps to our high back deck, then toss them over the railing to explode on the paved driveway below. Bingo, happy kids, clear porch, new tradition.
2. Events. When the weather starts turning chilly a few weeks after Labor Day, it means one thing – time to bring the backyard hammock in to the garage. We even circle the date on the kitchen calendar and label it "Hammock Day."
3. Meals. If it's Sunday morning, we must be eating waffles. Personally, I actually prefer pancakes, and I know my wife is tired of mixing the batter instead of reading the paper. But this one is so engrained in family lore that we'd both face impeachment if we skipped it.
4. Holidays. Presidents Day is a rather insignificant stitch in the American tapestry of celebrations, with the exception of car dealers' holding huge sales. Our family, however, visits the grandparents every time this mid-February long weekend rolls around. Seriously, it's more important than birthdays. Don't ask me how this one started.
5. Friends. We link certain activities with particular friends. We usually eat at a favorite Italian restaurant with one family, while we order barbecue take-out whenever my father-in-law comes to town. In the end, it doesn't matter what the event is. Practicing a new tradition is a fun way to unite the family and celebrate in our own way.