Sparkling sequins and glossy pearls adorned the bodice and skirt of the bride’s candlelight satin gown. Her misty veil trailed beyond the long train of her wedding dress as she walked down the long aisle on the arm of her father.
[break][/break]When father and daughter reached the waiting groom in his black tuxedo, the two of them paused. Her father looked into her teary eyes and gently kissed her hand. Then she slipped a tiny ring from her finger and dropped it into his hand. He, in turn, gave it to the man who was pledging his life to love and cherish the daughter. The little gesture was missed by most of the crowd as they awaited the ceremony. But this moment had been planned and dreamed of for many years.
[break][/break]As a family we’ve developed many traditions over the years, some of them by accident, some on purpose. The majority of them are attached to holidays, like drinking the first hot chocolate of the season on the first day of Fall. Some of them are silly, like putting bugs or other unmentionables in plastic Easter eggs. But a few are very special, once-in-a-child’s-lifetime traditions.
[break][/break]One such tradition is giving a daughter a purity ring on her birthday. The two oldest girls received theirs on their 16th birthday, but we decided to move that ahead to the 13th birthday for the youngest four daughters. My husband does a solo shopping trip to find the special ring. The morning of the girl’s birthday, the two of them head off for a special breakfast and talk, where she receives the ring that she will wear until her wedding day, if she chooses. It is a reminder of accountability and honor, along with responsibility for her choices.
[break][/break]Our most recent 13-year-old recipient was taken to a local café. This breakfast trip is not necessarily to the most elegant restaurant in town, mind you. Since the dad picks the place, it’s the joint with crispy hash browns and good coffee. Sort of a comfortable hometown place, frequented by the locals.
[break][/break]My husband later related the story to me and showed me the photo taken by the girl who waited on them. He told how several of the waitresses were interested in what he was giving our daughter, and of the wistful look on their faces.
[break][/break]My heart was pricked as I suddenly realized that those girls would have loved for someone to have cared enough for them to cherish and protect them by giving them a special ring as they entered adolescence. I think of my own lonely, difficult teen years and wonder if something like that would have made a difference in my own life. Loving boundaries and safe places are in short supply these days. Rings are no guarantee of character or good choices, but the unspoken symbolism that a young woman is cared for and watched over goes a long way.
[break][/break]Simple family traditions are part of the glue that holds families together and keeps them coming home. They create a sense of belonging and sameness, a security that things will happen in the same way, even when life takes a turn. In our rush to enroll children in activities and classes and sports, we forget the simple remembrances that form patterns of family memories. Things like special meals and seasonal decorations and traditions mark the passing of time and form a background of family life that is never forgotten.
[break][/break]You can begin a new tradition any time. By the time you’ve done it a second time, it’s a bona-fide tradition. Don’t regret what you haven’t done up to this point—start something new today. Even if your children are older, they will enjoy some things “we always do.” Before you know it, a bride will be walking down the aisle and you’ll be glad you made those memories.
[break][/break]What traditions has your family created? Funny or serious, share them in the comments below!