The Family Glue called Traditions

We have always said that traditions are the glue that hold a family together, but we have to admit that it has taken years for that to really sink in!

Many years ago we decided to have a special family tradition for each member of our family on his or her biirthday. They range from building a snowman for a winter birthday to floating the birthday cake in whatever water was available for a summer birthday. But I think that the one that everyone looked forward to more than any other was Richard’s birthday tradition. Because his birthday occurs on Oct. 28, we decided many years ago that his traditon should be jumping in the autumn leaves.  We raked them in piles and buried each other in them, jumped from trees into them, stuffed them down each other’s backs, tossed them in air and let them shower down like rice at a wedding. We generally had a pretty raucous celebration every year.

When we started that tradition with our little children all those years ago, we could never have realized how far it would go. On Oct. 28 two decades later, our oldest three children had flown the nest. Two daughters were on missions for our church, and our oldest son was attending college. On his big day Richard, began opening the cards that the far-away kids had sent. Without checking with one other, each envelope contained, not a card, but a leaf! Our oldest daughter said it perfectly when she included a little note that said, “Dad, the orphans here in Bulgaria helped me honor your tradition. This leaf is from our jumping pile. And remember … even though I’m far away from home, I’m still a part of our family.”  Bingo! Glue!

Our next daughter included a similar note, and we were amused that our son included only a leaf. No note. He’s a guy, you know. He knew that his dad would know what it meant.

Now the tradition is celebrated with leaves not only from the children but with the next generation. Grandchildren save leaves that they love to send to their grandfather for his birthday.  Pictures of beautiful leaves appear from them in an email, a text or on Instagram. Some even send videos of their leaf jumping parties. That simple little tradition brings our family together each Oct. 28 as we continue to celebrate Richard’s birthday as a famiily.

We thought you might like to see a few pictures of the leaf extravaganzas, starrting about 35 years ago and going through the years right up to the one that occurred just last week (thanks to Saren who dug up these old photos).


If you are just starting your family traditions, have fun with them because they are more important than you may think. As those of you who have older families survey your own family traditions, we think you’ll see how much they have become part of the fiber of your family. Truly family traditions are the glue that holds your family together forever.

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