Every July 4th we would travel as a family to Frankfort, Michigan to enjoy the festivities. Frankfort is an idyllic northern Michigan town located on the shores of Lake Michigan (OK- look at your left hand and it is located just below the end of your pinky finger- this is mapping Michigan style!). The 4th was big stuff in Frankfort. They would have a whole list of happenings which always included a parade down Main Street and a grand fireworks display. I am sure that they still are celebrating the 4th of July the same way. These towns are locked in time- you can come back years later and it’s exactly the same. It’s comforting really. In the midst of the light speed world, it is comforting to know that you can go back and things are pretty much the same. But this is not the topic here.
Our trips to Frankfort began one year after we found a great campground and we enjoyed the weekend so much that we returned the next year. And the next. And the next. And the next. I am not entirely sure how many years we returned, but we were probably close to a run of ten years in a row. We even started to bring other families who also returned with us year after year. A great place to be for the 4th. But this is not the topic either.
My kids loved this trip. It was really the highlight of our camping summer. Not because it was really super great. We camped at many places that were more spectacular. Yes- My daughter established a relationship with the daughter of the guy that owned the hardware store on Main Street. Yes- We loved the clean goodness of the town, the activities, and Lake Michigan. Yes- It is a strikingly beautiful area. Again, not the topic this time.
The thing that made this trip great was that it was a family tradition. There was no question about where we were going for the 4th. We were going to Frankfort, Michigan. Period.
Traditions are really important for families. We had a few good ones, but Frankfort on the 4th was really special. Traditions have a way of binding you together- really tightening the bond of a relationship. I can’t completely explain it. It’s a strange thing. I only know that it’s important and powerful in families. Traditions can have a similar effect outside of families. They are also great in work environments and other group settings. Drawing you closer. Binding you together. Giving you an identity.
Here are some characteristics of a good tradition:
Repeats: A tradition must be repeated. Can’t be a one shot deal. You absolutely can’t miss- must repeat as scheduled.
Improves: A good tradition will improve over time. This can be a challenge, but it needs to have a flavor of being new each time. At least a little twist.
Total Involvement: Everyone needs to be involved. 100% participation. Again- this can be tough but you can do it! Make it something universal.
Fun: Absolutely has to be fun. And really- goofy can be great here. Come up with something that is out of the box. Kids really love this stuff and we are all just old kids- right?
Planning: Planning is an important part of it. Talking and planning extends the experience and the power of the event. Start planning the next year while you are wrapping up the previous year.
Leaders should take advantage of traditions. If you host an event that just explodes in popularity, why don’t you repeat the event and make it a tradition? I believe that traditions are essential in families. They give you something special that gives you a unique identification. Take advantage of this! Come up with a few traditions for your family. Traditions are natural goodness- just like Frankfort, Michigan over the 4th of July!