Doesn't it seem like just yesterday you were 5 years old waking up Christmas morning and you were utterly amazed by the wonder of all the festivities? Some of you may look back with a smile at childhood memories, while others of you may try to withhold that backwards glance because of painful memories you long to not bring to the surface.
After contemplating your childhood memories, think of the memories your children are going to have once they grow old and spend time reflecting on their lives. What kind of atmosphere was provided for them? Was the culture you created in your home strong enough to anchor them as they ventured into the insidious culture of the society around them every day?
A great portion of family culture is built on folklore – a collection of narratives and memories, some true, some false; some funny, some harsh. But they make us who we are and create an atmosphere in our family that defines us. One of the keys to proactively crafting a family culture is to constantly be thinking, "What kind of memory am I creating right now, whether good or bad?" It's not just, "What am I doing right now for my family?" or "How much am I earning for my family?" or "What am I giving my family?" But "What kind of memory am I etching into the template of my children's minds?"
Many of us have suffered from the illusion that simply earning extra money to give our family more stuff is what will help them. Often we end up substituting material gifts for the time-intensive process of creating meaningful memories. And often we forego the effort of creating memories that would cost near to nothing but would create great family tales and significant ethical lessons for our children to store in their memory for the time when they create their own family heritage for their own children.
One thing my family always did while the kids were growing up was a family night every week. Each family member got to choose an activity on their week, whether it was watching a movie, eating out or playing a game. Our challenge was to find something creative and 'outside the –box" that would not just be a fun activity, but would also create a great memory. When we remember our family dates, "crazy hair night" was a big one where we all did another family member's hair in a really wild way and then went out to dinner. We did a pajama's night and a 50's night and all kinds of other different things. It's not a bad idea to get your kids to help in choosing what these memories are going to be.
This Christmas, work to create a home where children feel secure in strong relationships all year round. My encouragement to you would be to make a list of things you want to do with your family to make some good memories. Make a list of things you will do as a family, where everyone is laughing and having a good time. Then make a list of ways to create individual memories with each of your kids. Make plans to do things on the list this year, this month, maybe even this week. Think about what is occupying their memory banks now. Then dream a little bit. So you can fill them with a library of great memories.
This article was adapted from Ron's lastest book, Re-Create: Building a Culture in Our Homes That Is Stronger Than the Culture Deceiving Our Kids, released August 1 nationwide. Look for it at your nearest bookstore, or visit www.battlecry.com for more information.