Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ritual Roundup - Keeping kids in touch with extended family

Hmmm...I started this post last Tuesday, but clearly I haven't managed to do much - okay, any - posting over the course of the past week.  This post has been rattling around in my mind, because the topic itself has been on my mind (especially since our most recent family reunion), and I'm excited to finally get it written.  I'm also hoping that those who stop by this space will share their own ideas and experiences on today's topic.

As I mentioned in this post, I am a big believer in establishing and nurturing family rituals both for big events and for everyday moments.  Not only do rituals and traditions offer a sense of fun, home, and continuity, but I think that they also offer opportunities for connection.  In the case of extended family members living in other towns and states, I would like to find a way to establish some rituals or semi-regular activities to help keep us all connected (especially for my children and their cousins).

The May 2007 issue of Family Fun magazine had these ideas to offer:

* Create a perennial birthday calendar.  Keep a list - organized by month - of family member birthdays decorated with family photos and craft materials from around the house.

* Host an annual Christmas ornament exchange.  Each cousin/family member is randomly assigned the name of another cousin/family member for whom they will make or purchase a holiday ornament.

And my personal favorite:

* Start a linking letter.  Create and circulate a newsletter supplemented with photos, mementos, and holiday treats.  One family sends this "care package" to the next, which adds its own materials and pops it back in the mail to the next branch of the extended family.  When the package makes it back to the original family, they simply remove their old news and photos, add updates, and send the whole thing on its way again.

The ideas presented in this article, and what has been on the forefront of my mind, have been focused on children.  Of course, I'd love to hear any ideas that others have about special ways of staying connected as adults with siblings, parents, cousins, aunts and uncles, etcetera.  Between Running Man and I we have three siblings and only one of them lives in the same area.  We have some fun little ways of staying connected and, oddly enough, they all seem to involve some item of questionable value.  Take this clown, for example.  Creepy, don't you think?  I'll share more on this little guy, his history, and his adventures another time.

We found our favorite scary clown wrapped up like corn-on-the-cob in our grill...about 7 months after it had been placed there.

So I ask, what do you do in your family to nurture fun and connection with family members who don't live in the same area?

Happy Tuesday, friends!

"A cousin is a ready-made friend for life."  ~Anonymous


  1. Brittany, believe it or not, as dorky as it sounds, I send my sister coupons every week. It's my little way of saying, "I'm thinking about you today."

  2. I dig the ornament idea!! I think the newsletter/care package idea is great too, but I'm guessing it would get stalled at one house or another on a regular basis and the point would be somewhat missed.

    We pass around a tacky pink plastic flower in our family. It's shown up in flower pots along with other (real) flowers, in the space behind the gas tank cover of a car, in a wedding bouquet (!), at the bottom of a bowl of pet food, and recently even in my daughter's sandbox. :-)

  3. I actually find blogging a great way to keep people updated on the goings-on of our family (and me). But the problem is that everyone is caught up on me but I know nothing about them.

    I think blogs should be mandatory. There, I said it. ;)