How traditions can help your family connect

In our family we have approximately one birthday every two weeks between October and December closely followed by Christmas. This means plenty of opportunities for family traditions followed shortly afterwards by plenty of opportunities for scrapbooking family traditions.

I believe that not only do the family traditions themselves help create strong families, but the scrapbooking of family traditions creates further strengthening as those memorable times are relived again and again

According to the American Psychological Association there is good evidence that traditions act as glue - helping families stay connected and strong.

Barbara Fiese and Thomas Tomcho, who completed research on the topic in 2001, say family traditions provide a sense of belonging and personal identity - aspects, they say, that are important for the health and well-being of individuals and help support the stability of family members in times of stress and change.

After reading a book recently about traditions I decided that I needed to create more of them for my family.

I thought about some of the ones we currently do, like sitting around the dinner table and having high/lows. This is where everyone shares what their high was for the day (the best thing that happened) and then their low (the worst thing that happened).

Another for us is on birthdays when the birthday person gets to wake up to a colourful helium filled balloon by their bed.

We decorate our living room with their name and age on the wall (we don't do this for Simon, my husband, coz some of the kids don't know those high numbers yet)........and balloons everywhere.

I also bake a special cake each year (although it can be difficult with 7 children coming up with fresh ideas) and the birthday person chooses what the meal will be and he gets the honor of the red plate, which entitles them to as much food as they want.

Christmas time brings lots of traditions. We start when we decorate the tree. We do this together as a family while Christmas music plays in the background. And we all wear Santa hats.

It is a special night with a special supper at the end.

Then there are the treasured Christmas decorations that we put up each year to remind us of loved ones.

It's amazing how kids notice when a tradition gets broken, even once.
For example I make my own Christmas crackers - and I personalize them, putting inexpensive little things in that I know each one will like.

The kids love this.

One year I actually purchased Christmas crackers because......well, life was busy.

Everyone noticed I didn't make them that year and I felt really bad.

So now I always try and continue this tradition.

On Christmas Eve we sit around and share the Christmas story with the kids and have grape juice and crackers for communion while we discuss what Christmas is really all about.

Another thing we do on Christmas Eve is each person shares with the family one thing that happened to them that they were truly grateful for during the year and one thing they would like to happen next year.

I love to hear what they have to say.

Traditions can be so much fun and are often passed on down to our children's families. They help bind us together establishing fond memories for the rest of our lives.

And of course you aren't going to let all those traditions pass you by without taking a gigabyte or two of photos for your soon to be created scrapbooking layouts are you?