Creating traditions in our blended family gave us a launching pad for building our family unity and close relationships. Two traditions we started early on have stuck with our family, movie night and bowling! The last two days of the Holiday break we were lucky enough to find time to do both with all three kids.
Movies have been a big part of our family life. Since the creation of our family, most nights we have watched a movie together. When the kids were younger, we would split the movie viewing over a couple of nights. The whole enchilada came as they've grown older.
Some movies we've seen a like million times - Home Alone! Ugh! Others we've had to negotiate with the kids - watch a 20 minute preview before they can say no to the particular film - never had a NO after the preview period. Everyone in our family can repeat any number of favorite lines from hundreds of movie. No background information necessary - just the delivery of the line and we all chime in with the punch line. It's a language that created a bond that continues to grow with every laugh, thrill and cry we share.
In fact, one of our family trips was inspired from a movie we watched together and the kids fell in love with - namely it's location. The movie - Italian Job. The location - Venus, Italy. All three kids fell in love with the City and dreamed of someday going there. As a surprise to the kids a few years back - our Christmas gift to them was to travel to Venus over the Thanksgiving Holiday.
It's freezing cold that time a year, not peak season and the Italian's don't celebrate Thanksgiving so we got an extremely incredible rate. Froze our butt's off, but the kids still talk about how the movie became a reality today. Two memories stick out in my mind. Riding the Gondola that was used in a James Bond film. My Hubby saying to the kids "You can't really discover a city until you get yourself good and lost!" Which we did by the way and loved every minute! A movie we watched together sparked a common dream for our blended family to share. It belonged to just the five of us and ultimately when we fulfilled the dream together - it was all ours!
Now with every movie we watch were always scoping out new places to dream about exploring together. This Holiday we went to the theatre for "The Descendents." The movie was set in a location we all know very well - Kauai. We've have been lucky to visit many times as a family. Our family memories run deep. We all whispered as they walked on "our" beach, ate at "our" restuarant. Following the movie we talked non-stop about our trips, funny lines in the movie all mixed with a heavy dose of laughter.
Second, we went bowling. The day we went all the usual, cool, hip places were packed, so we went to one with less thrills and had a total blast. Bowling was big part of both my Hubby's and my childhood. More so for Raylan - his family bowled two to three times most weeks.
Raylan's Mom bowled in several leagues up until she passed away. Visits to Grandma always included a trip to the bowling alley. Now, Jax and Raylan love competing to see who will hold the Hartman champ title. Me and the girls struggle to break 60. The great thing is we're all able to laugh and cheer at all the moments from a strike to a gutter ball!
When my mother-in-law passed the entire Hartman clan went to the bowling alley after her burial - the one that Raylan and his parents had visited as family every week during his childhood. The kids bowled and heard story after story about Grandma and ate the best fries ever at the counter their Dad and Grandma had shared a fry - fifty years earlier.
Both family traditions are apart of the very core of our kids - ones I have no doubt they will go on to replicate in the own families some day. Yes, they've seen movies and bowled with their other families, but we made these seemingly trivial activities a consistent, important and unique part of our Blended Family. It was a break from the reality of blending our families - we could just enjoy the activity and being with each other.
Our family time ended with some new memories in the bank. As the kids continue to grow up these are two traditions that will continue to follow as our Blended Family continues to evolve!