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The Gift of Tradition - Parents, technology keep families connected during holidays and beyond

From the sugar-cookie-baking party at Grandma’s house to the way the ornaments adorn the tree, during the holidays many American families focus on tradition.

 

According to a recent survey conducted by Modern Woodmen of America, a fraternal financial services organization with offices in Humble, 77 percent of Americans think it’s very important to pass family traditions on to the next generation.

“Traditions are a direct reflection of a family’s beliefs and values,” says local Modern Woodmen representative Ivan Green. “The holiday season often brings these to the forefront.”

So who takes care of passing on family traditions? According to survey results, in most families the responsibility falls on the capable shoulders of mom or another female relative. “Definitely, women take the initiative in traditions in most families,” says Meg Cox, author of “The New Book of New Family Traditions: How to Create Great Rituals for Holidays and Everyday.”

But there are some exceptions. “When a father, husband or grandfather is active in creating and keeping traditions, it often has a huge impact,” says Cox. “For example, I am one of four children. When I was growing up, my father would take one of us every Saturday as he ran errands. We didn’t care that we were going to the hardware store or to get the car fixed, the important thing was we were spending time with him. We’d always end the time together at the coffee shop where he’d buy us hot cocoa with whipped cream and a doughnut. For me, such a simple tradition that required very little effort from my father has made a lifetime memory.”

According to the Modern Woodmen survey, 42 percent of Americans said that a mother and father equally share the responsibility of passing down family traditions to the next generation, while 35 percent said the mother took care of this role. Those who said the mother was most likely to pass down traditions were typically female, while those who said both parents were involved were married males between the ages of 25 to 44.

Regardless of who keeps the traditions, most families find that they must adapt beloved traditions to fit today’s lifestyle. Cox has found many families that use technology to solve problems such as time and distance. She cites an example of one family that was too spread out to get together for Thanksgiving.

“They couldn’t get together physically, but the weekend before Thanksgiving they have established a pie-making night,” she explains. “Each household uses Grandma’s recipe to make pies, and Grandma calls each house at some point throughout the night. It’s a beautiful example of how you can adapt a tradition, as well as stay connected as a family.”

This holiday season presents another opportunity to create family traditions. Modern Woodmen’s Gatherings Web site at www.gatherings.info offers tips and ideas for planning family gatherings and encouraging traditions with immediate and extended family.

“Modern Woodmen developed the Gatherings Web site because helping people achieve quality family life is at the core of everything we do,” says Green. “It helps us promote family togetherness by making planning family get-togethers simple and fun.”

Modern Woodmen representatives help more than 750,000 members meet quality-of-life needs for their families and communities through financial advice and products, and fraternal programs.

Founded in 1883 as a fraternal benefit society, Modern Woodmen of America offers financial services and fraternal member benefits to individuals and families throughout the United States.