Herald Journal Columns
Nov. 1, 2004 Herald Journal

Traditions are important


Yesterday, the spooky ghosts, monsters, witches and, as my daughter was transformed into for the day, Thumbelina, were out on the streets on that one evening of the year when it’s OK to ask a neighbor or even “not a neighbor” for a treat.

Halloween was here, and with it came traditions and rituals that many families participated in.

The 1989 version of The New Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a tradition as an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought or action.

Possibly your family travels to a pumpkin patch at Halloween time, and your child picks out the best pumpkin that he can find, and there is a “best” one out there, or maybe your child trick-or-treats with the same friend(s) each year.

Whatever may be your family’s tradition, it is something that your child and family do that is predictable and established for your family. You know and your child most certainly knows that it is going to happen, and it does.

I remember as a child, I always went trick-or-treating with my twin brother and my nieces and nephews (who were all about the same age as me). This was a tradition.

We’d all meet at my much older sister’s house and go out together dressed in a wide array of costumes.

In that traditional spirit, I remember one year, we lost my twin brother in a bush. We all walked up some large steps to someone’s house, and needless to say, he fell over the side of the steps into the bush. We did not notice that we had lost someone because there was always a big group of us, and keeping track of everyone was a difficult task.

We could hear his voice, but not see him. “Help me out of here. I’m stuck.”

We all got a chuckle out of his mishap, but we did rescue him, with some additional decorations of bush branches stuck to his costume.

There are some good old memories that I still chuckle about.

I fondly recall when Wally and Shirley Dibb’s house in Lester Prairie, was the “Halloween house” and was the last stop of the Halloween night for me when I was trick-or-treating.

Wally and Shirley were always in costumes, and they served “witches’ brew” (hot apple cider) from a caldron that was surrounded by fog.

Other houses on the same block participated in this annual event and provided a Halloween fun, treats, and atmosphere for all the little and big ghosts, goblins, and monsters howling around.

That event was a tradition for so many of us, and I remember those times so warmly as I retell those childhood memories to my children.

We appreciate Wally and Shirley for those traditions and memories that they created for so many children for so many years.We could always count on them and their Halloween event, and that is what a tradition is about!

May we remember that traditions and rituals are so important in children’s lives. Whether the tradition is “big” or “small,” annual or daily, going on a yearly vacation or reading a book as a family before going to bed, traditions create lasting memories and stability in what often seems to be an unstable, fast-paced world.

Dr. Phil notes in his latest book “Family Matters,” that traditions and rituals are so important in family life that social scientists say that without them, a family may be lacking in crucial ways. Children are more likely to develop behavioral problems, and more conflict may be experienced in a family’s home. He further states that rituals have been found to produce positive changes in the physical body such as, stronger immunity, lower levels of stress hormones, and decreased blood pressure.

Traditions and rituals provide security and connectedness as a family. They help children acquire a sense of continuity, security, love, and a sense of belonging among family members. They are predictable activities that serve as anchors for a family’s values and beliefs, and create rhythm in a family’s life.

Your family probably has traditions and rituals that you haven’t even thought about. Creating new traditions can be fun and worthwhile too. Maybe even having your child help with the creation of the tradition would be beneficial for everyone in your family. She can then pass the tradition on to her family someday.

If you have a tradition or ritual that could be shared with readers, please e-mail me.

Now is the time to buy clearance Halloween costumes so that your children can play “dress-up” all year ‘round, or just to get a bargain on next year’s costume.

Teach your child that voting is important

I urge people to exercise their right to vote in the upcoming election and to discuss the process, but not necessarily your position, with your child. This sets a good example and stresses the importance of voting, and that every vote does count.

In the upcoming election, there are many school districts and communities that will be voting on operating levies. I urge every voting member living in these districts to really think about your vote.

An operating levy is a locally approved levy that is used to help support student learning, programs, and costs of operating their own school district.

As an educator, parent, and citizen, I again urge people to think strongly about your vote.

Just like anything, whether it’s a car or a house, it gets old and needs upkeep or it will wear out and become unusable or the costs to keep things running rise. We must then put money back into the item so it continues to “work.”

Whether it’s programs in school for the children or the school building itself, they need upkeep to keep them running. (I know this is simply said, but it is the truth).

Maybe your children are grown, or you don’t have children, or your children attend a different school. Your vote affects other people’s children and ultimately, everyone’s children.

Children are our future. These children grow to be adults. They may be our neighbors someday, sit next to us in church, be our next dentist, doctor, grocer or builder.

So as you go to vote, think about the future – our children. Everyone benefits from a well-educated society.

Food for thought

My son got off the school bus the other day, walked up the driveway a few steps, and did a cartwheel. I was watching him from the window and just smiled. “He must have had another great day at school,” I thought.

Wouldn’t it be great, after our work was done for the day, to do a cartwheel?

Have a great week, and try a cartwheel, or maybe just a skip!