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Adventures in Retirement: Habits can be bad, but family traditions are good

Written by Bill Leavitt. Posted in Featured, Senior Living

Published on September 03, 2019 with No Comments

I recently read a book about traditions in Sweden and I thought it was interesting how many traditions Swedes have.  They have many more special days and ways of celebrating than we do in the U.S.  That started me thinking about family traditions.

I know that as seniors we try to avoid habit-forming behavior, since habits often make us become set in our ways and doing new things in different ways is more mentally healthy for us.

However, traditions are valuable in that they remind us of past enjoyable events.  They are an especially good idea for families, in addition to well-known traditions at Christmas, Thanksgiving and Halloween.  My family has some great traditions for various holidays.  One good example is a Christmas family dinner we have every year.  Near the end of the day when it is time for people to start leaving, we have a “snowball” fight.  It is not real snowballs, but soft cloth balls that can’t hurt.  We have it in our living room and everyone, from 3 years to 78, gets involved.  Fifteen minutes of that and everyone has burned off their excess energy and are ready to go home.  Everyone looks forward to it every year.

My niece has “cookie day” for her nieces and nephews — a day where everyone bakes and eats cookies.  When I was a child, decorating our Christmas tree was a major tradition that you wouldn’t want to miss.   One of my friends has a tradition of coming from Florida to Northwest Indiana every summer to attend Serb Fest and at the same time visit friends and family who still live in Northwest Indiana.  Another popular tradition many people have is to watch a particular movie at a special time of year, such as “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “A Christmas Story” (set in Northwest Indiana).  We used to read “The Night Before Christmas” poem to all the kids on Christmas Eve.

Traditions may include a special food, such as from your family’s culture, an activity that you look forward to repeating annually, a song, a religious rite, or something else that becomes an annual event.  As seniors, you may be in the best position to introduce something that brings the family together for fun or closeness.  Great traditions also make people look forward to a gathering that will be memorable and enjoyable.

Whether you are able to create a new family tradition or just enjoy the ones you already have, take advantage of them to remember the good times of the past — and savor them.

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About Bill Leavitt

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All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle. Bill Leavitt is a technical writer from Valparaiso. After retiring from a large corporation in Chicago, he did technical writing consulting for many companies. He currently teaches part-time at Purdue University Calumet. You can order Leavitt’s book, “Retirement: Life’s Greatest Adventure,” by sending $16.65 (includes shipping and sales tax) made payable to Write On Technical Writing, Inc., P.O. Box 132,Valparaiso, IN 46384-0132. Or, visit RetirementLifesGreatestAdventure.com for more information.

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