When you think about your family culture, what do you think of? Are you intentional about what forms a part of what is important to your family or does it kind of morph into a set of values and practices that become important to your family and what you do year in year out?
I am generally an intentional person but I confess that I find that time zips by so quickly that our family values and practices do often develop out of daily habits and just what we tend to do. That’s why what I’m writing about in this blog kind of surprises me. I’m writing about the year I decided to have a go at changing family culture – it was a combination of being intentional and reaching the end of my tether over certain things.
It was Easter 2011..or 2012..to be honest I can’t actually remember which year it started. It actually started in 2010 when our church, to which we had just returned, having lived away from Perth for 5 years, announced that it was no longer celebrating Easter. Instead it was going back to the Biblical festival of passover, a Jewish practice but one oozing with symbolism and focus on how the last week of Jesus Christ’s life had fulfilled a number of the aspects of the celebration of Passover. It was a big announcement, a big adjustment and the catalyst for me to consider why our family celebrated Easter.
Truth be told I had been growing increasingly disenchanted with the fact that Easter eggs were appearing in stores barely 2 weeks after Christmas was done and dusted, and that it was possible to buy hot crossed buns in February! Just what was it about Easter that was spiritual? My children fixated on the whole notion of chocolate and spent far too much time poring over catalogues figuring out which mega eggs they wanted. When I tried to talk to them about what else Easter might mean they were simply not interested.
In 2011 (or was it 2012?) I drew a line in the sand. NO. MORE. EASTER. EGGS. I simply could not bring myself to give my money to companies who had no compunction into flooding shelves with chocolate bunnies 2 months before it was necessary. I announced to my family that we were starting a new tradition and that I had told the Easter Bunny to give the chocolate destined for our house to families who needed it more than we did. Instead, we would be doing something special together as a family. In fact that year we all rode the Fremantle Ferris Wheel together and visited the mini fair on Fremantle esplanade. It was fantastic. The Freo Ferris Wheel did at least 7 revolutions, giving views across to Rottnest, over Fremantle harbour, over the town and across the ocean as far as eye could see. It was beautiful. The girls loved it and did not particularly miss the chocolate.
We have kept to that tradition since. I do not object to others giving them chocolate at Easter and this year my parents did an Easter egg hunt with them. I think they each received 4 or 5 mini eggs and a small Lindt bunny. I am writing this in June and both girls have 90% of their Lindt bunny left in the fridge and one of the girls still has some of her mini eggs left.
When I drew my line in the sand I was a bit worried about how the girls would go. It’s tricky for kids whose families practise different cultures to the norm. I was conscious that I didn’t want them to appear too different from everyone else. The reality is quite different however. They don’t seem to be overly bothered by the fact that their friends get mega eggs or are visited by the Easter bunny. They mention it from time to time but not with a notable degree of angst. They enjoy the family time – this year we spent a day at the zoo. And clearly they don’t miss the masses of chocolate as they both still have most of their Lindt bunny still to eat.
So….if you’re contemplating a change of family culture, be daring and take a step into the unknown. You never know what the result might be…..