I love traditions.

Many years ago, we were in our backyard talking to our neighbors about vacation getaways. They were telling us about a great family vacation spot they’d discovered in the Canaan Valley, WV – two ski mountains tucked within the largest valley east of the Mississippi. Hundreds of gorgeous mountain homes, breathtaking views, and at that time, no cell service. Not even a McDonalds, Motel 6 or Sheetz. It was, and still is, truly remote. A real, beautiful getaway.

That brief conversation led to a long-standing family tradition – one of our strongest. Even when money was more than tight, we found a way to get there. There is so much tradition wrapped around this trip.  Here’s just a few.  We buy the latest Disney or Pixar video and watch it there for the first time; we hike our favorite trails, Bald Knob and Timberline; we play games every night – usually Phase 10; we take our family Christmas picture outside the home; we visit The Purple Fiddle – a great place to listen to some Appalachian-based music, have an ice cream cone or enjoy a craft beer; we stop for lunch at Chicago Uno on the way down; and my wife and I even have a pre-vacation planning date at our local pub a week or so in advance – just to talk about the trip.  We love traditions. And we’ve built tons of memories around them.

Every Christmas brings a lot more traditions – including the “big gift” treasure hunt, the official treasure hunt preparation date, and, of course, driving around and looking at Christmas lights in our PJs.  Amy once asked our youngest, Mitchell, if we are doing that again this particular year, and he looked at her as if she’d spoken blasphemy! We did it.

What do these traditions do for us as families? They give us a foundation for bonding; they provide a source of comfort and security; they provide fantastic memories and even give us a sense of identity and a belonging.  Considering that most of us struggle just to sit down and have a meal together in today’s hurry-scurry world, these are things we sure could use more of. 

I encourage you to build traditions – especially when it comes to family. Find things to build upon. It gives a great foundation to the things that are most important to you. At least it has for us.

By the way, my neighbor, Chris…he and his family, which has now grown by a generation, still go to the Canaan Valley every year as well. Clearly a family tradition!