One of my fondest childhood memories was going to our cottage in Ontario for the entire summer as soon as school was out. My parents would pack us all up into the station wagon with our summer belongings and my Dad would drop us off with Mom, only to return on weekends. I fondly remember my family playing a card game that might best be described as competitive group solitaire at the old kitchen table until late into the night and well past our bedtime. I think it was most special because both my Mom and Dad would play with us which brought much laughter. As a family of 6 along with the odd cousin, those solitaire games were pretty lively and loud! I can still remember clutching my hand of cards while kneeling on the hard kitchen chair watching the Aces appear in the centre of the table. I couldn’t really reach but that didn’t stop me from playing with the grownups.
Rituals and family traditions at any age can be special and something that the entire family can hold onto, including grandparents. Similar experiences can occur with special friends or relatives in your community. Having that special bond with a group doing something you look forward to is all part of healthy living and socialization, which is also an important aspect of aging. Sometimes just having something to hold onto and look forward to when we are faced with challenges along the way can make a difference.
Maintaining these rituals is as important as the experience itself. In our family, I feel that these intergenerational traditions like playing cards helped to encourage bonding with my own parents which we both benefit from today. Perhaps if we all tried to create and maintain more simple traditions with our extended family such as sharing dinners or afternoon tea, that this might help bridge the gap between the generations and help maintain strength in families. Why not pick up the phone and reach out to a friend or a family member and start a new tradition because after all, it is never too late.
Oh and playing card games like group solitaire with our own kids is priceless, especially when their grandparents or friends can join in. This year as we head off on our annual summer retreat, one of our family rituals, the kids will pack their cards.
Denise Kelly is a North Vancouver Boomer proudly living with her two children, husband and dog Mel. She looks forward to sharing stories to motivate others. Follow her on twitter at TheBoomerVine or she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Originally Published BC Black Press Aug 2011