Family Traditions Creates Unbreakable Bonds and Awesome Memories

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What do the Sunday night movie, playing Monopoly on holidays and eating dinner at the table have in common? They are the glue that bonds a family together.

According to https://www.childhelp.org/ family traditions are handed down from generation to generation and add to the rhythm and seasonality of life.

What are Family Traditions?

They are those things we tend to repeat doing when we are together, like the things mentioned above. Family traditions differ from family to family and are normally just simple things we do that we as a family love, like having rowdy conversations around the dinner table as the Italians and Greeks tend to have. Or it is taking that annual holiday to the same place every year. So many of my husband’s childhood memories derive from their seaside family holidays, so much so that we live in the town they had their holidays in! My family didn’t have seaside holidays, but we had a big mass of water nearby where we lived and we went camping there over the Christmas season when I was little. It was also my birthday this time of year and to me it felt as if I had my birthday every day during those holidays, as different family members arrived daily with gifts for me!

Family Traditions look Different and can Literally be Anything!

Times have changed and so have the activities we do. But we still participate in traditions – even though we don’t even think of them as ‘traditions’. Mom and the girls going to the mall on a Saturday morning, Dad playing cricket with the boys in the garden on Sunday afternoons, visiting the grandparents for Saturday braai or watching the rugby together, are all good examples of South African family traditions.

The Advantages of Family Traditions

Other than helping the family to bond, it also builds children’s confidence, because their parents are spending some real time with them. That makes them feel grounded and safe and help them to be more outgoing and courageous. You can read up more on the advantages of family traditions on your own.

Family Traditions in the Time of the Corona Virus

Yep, we are locked in and can’t even take our dogs for a walk in the streets, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t still do things together. We are after all, cooped up together like never, ever before in our lifetimes! So, this makes it a perfect time to bring back some old family traditions or establish new ones.

If you have stopped or never eaten together at a table as a family, start doing that – even if it is for only one meal a day. Here are a few pointers for this:

  • Ban cell phones from the table and keep a few conversation starters handy to get your family talking to each other again.
  • Research a few good conversation topics which are fitting for your family’s age.
  • Allow difference of opinion, but make sure to establish rules so that it is still done respectfully and things don’t get ugly. If we teach our children to have an opinion and speak their minds at home, educators don’t have to teach them what they want to teach them.
  • Start debates about different topics. Divide everyone present into two groups and let them debate two sides of a topic. When things get heated, change it around. It is fun to see everyone suddenly out of their comfort zones when having to defend the other side! And it normally ends fights immediately.

Play together, whether it is board games or games in the garden. And don’t stop when the lockdown is over.

Create something together, such as cooking, baking and braaiing, making clothes, building puzzles, building lego or whatever your family is into.

Try to teach your children something regularly during the lockdown, but keep doing it hereafter. Teach them to pray and care for others, braai, plant veggies, snoei trees, play chess, build something out of wood, do DIY chores in the house etc. Doing this on a regular basis will not only teach them skills, but give them confidence and the ability to do things for by themselves and for themselves.

Read together. Read bedtime stories to your children from day one. (Yes, they need to hear stories in their dads’ and moms’ voices from an early age.) When they are older (and now during lockdown) you can lie around reading for a few hours a day.

Start a thanksgiving tradition, either at the breakfast or dinner table or whenever you are all gathered together and bored during the lockdown. Think about those less privileged during this time and start a ‘Thank You’ jar where you can all contribute with things you are thankful written on a piece of paper and put into the jar. Open in up in a year’s time or so and read it aloud around the table while eating.

These are just a few examples. There are lots more. You know what your family love doing. Dust off a few old ones or start new traditions. Search the Internet for more ideas if you need to.

Keeping it Up

Our young adult son is still with us at home. We continue doing things together as a family on a regular basis, such as eating together every meal, even though he lives outside in the cottage. We go for picnics at the beach and going on Sunday exploring rides etc. My sister-in-law’s two adult children are having dinner with them every Sunday evening. Some dads and their adult sons have weekly squash appointments. You get the point.

So, when this lockdown is over or when the children are all grown up, don’t stop with the traditions. Many South African families are split up and live all over the world, but with the technology available these days, we can still be ‘together’. Make a family group call on a week night/morning (depending on time differences) and kuier together on Skype or WhatsApp video calls.

Do whatever it takes to keep your family traditions going, because they create awesome and precious memories for your children which they will carry over to their children.

 

© 2020 Fielies De Kock 

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopefullest writer. Foreverest dreamer. Living in a coastal village in the Overberg, South Africa, with a husband and two dogs in a small heritage house, and an adult, recently-graduated, job-seeking son in the garden cottage. His CV is available on request. 🙂🙂🙂

 

In the Beginning we were Created to be Creative

 

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God has created us to be creators therefore we are creative by nature. We reproduce, we plant and make food, build houses, create lifestyles. We create jobs or work at jobs that others have created. You should be getting the picture. None of us can claim that we “are not creative”. It is in our DNA. Being human is all about being creative.

Unfortunately, our lives had become so busy that we all aren’t that creative anymore. Some of us had become so busy and distracted with either accumulating wealth or just surviving that we let others create on our part and we are/have to be pleased with ‘buying’ other people’s creativity. We do that by shopping for bread instead of baking it ourselves, buying clothes, furniture, home decorations etc. You get my drift. Of course it is impossible to make and build everything ourselves. It is also unnecessary, because if we don’t buy other people’s creations, neither they or we will accumulate wealth/survive.

The point is that we modern people had become so busy that most of us don’t create anything at all anymore. We don’t even fix things anymore in our consumer culture. We just replace by buying new stuff. We don’t all have to build our own houses, bake our own bread, brew our own coffee, build our own furniture, make our own clothes… but SOMETIMES we can and we must make or build our own things – because IT IS GOOD FOR US!

Why Creativity is Good for Us

When we are creative it makes us healthier by building our immune systems and our confidence, it lowers our blood pressure, it balances our mental state, it makes us happier, it makes us resourceful and then guess what? It makes us even more creative. You can read more on your own time about the advances of creativity from people who knows more than I do here:

https://lifelabs.psychologies.co.uk/users/8838-nicola-vanlint/posts/4292-the-positive-benefits-of-creativity

https://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleystahl/2018/07/25/heres-how-creativity-actually-improves-your-health/

So, Now What?

For now my job is to help you to use the next weeks where you will definitely not be too busy because you can’t go anywhere, to be at least a bit creative every day. And who knows, maybe you enjoy it so much that you make time in your busy schedule to keep doing it when life returns back to ‘normal’ once again. So here goes.

First Things First

  • Thank your Creator for another healthy day and pray for the people who have to work to keep us healthy and safe. If you have friends working, send them a short thank you message.
  • Pray and do Bible study. And think about your life. Now is a good time for introspection. (You can also read this blog entry: https://fieliesdekock.com/2014/03/17/article-on-writing-thinking-about-life/
  • It is important to keep a bit of routine to maintain a good mental state. So, open the curtains and windows to make sure your living quarters have enough air for all the people cooped up in the small space together.
  • Make your bed immediately when you wake up. This will give you your first sense of accomplishment and gives you a mental kick. (My poor family even need to make their own beds in a hotel – even though the hotel staff does it again!)
  • Make sure everyone in the household has chores. This will not only make living together easier, but it will give everyone responsibilities which will help in making everyone feel useful. Remember, everyone can contribute, even if it is in the smallest way!
  • Don’t try to do everything you decide to do at once. Choose one or two activities a day. Make a manageable list if you want to. Remember that this free time is given to you. Don’t see it as a punishment. It is a gift. We have never been handed time on a plate like this. Let’s make the best of it and enjoy it!
  • Stay up to date on what you need to ensure the safety of your family, but don’t overload yourself with too much information, because it will have a negative influence on your mental state.
  • Make time every morning to sit together for coffee and a talk. Check everyone’s health and mental state and take action if needed.
  • Play the radio or music in the house, so that there is a lively feeling in the house.

 Ideas for the Rest of your Day

  • Write something
    • You won’t be able to write that book you are dreaming of in three weeks, but whether it is a memoir or a novel, spend half an hour every day doing research on how to go about the process and write the outline.
    • You can also follow my Instagram account @thewritingclub.dieskryfklub and do a writing prompt every day for the duration of the lockdown.
    • If you are a writer consider a specific writing schedule for the duration of staying home, such as writing a short story a week, a chapter a week, a 100-wod story per day, a poem a day etc.
    • If you have a hobby or have something that you are good at, consider starting a blog.
    • Teach your children to write a story. I will post a blog entry to help you with this shortly.
    • Start journaling. Read my blog entry about journaling here: https://fieliesdekock.com/2014/03/17/article-on-writing-journal-writing/
  • Playing games with the family
    • If you live in a house play games in the garden. Teach your children games you have played on the school playgrounds when you were young.
    • Play board and card games in the house.
    • Remember to also play make-belief games with your little ones!
  • Watch movies. Make sure to take turns to watch a favourite from each family member – big and small.
  • Work in the garden together.
  • Catch up with family and old friends on WhatsApp, Skype etc., but don’t just forward messages, pictures and videos. Write nice conversational news messages from your family or make fun videos where all family members get a turn to talk or give a message.
  • Spend some time on neglected hobbies or start a new one. Maybe examine the possibility of making money from your talent. Watch ‘how to’ videos on your interest and learn how to become better at what you love to do.
  • Read! And get your family to read. And read stories to your little ones! Read my blog entry here: https://fieliesdekock.com/2013/08/27/teach-your-child-to-read/
  • Finish unfinished projects and things that broke and is mendable. Make it an opportunity to teach your child/ren to fix things.
  • Get exercise.

Even if you live in the smallest of flats, you have to get some exercise. Search the Internet for exercise ideas in small spaces. Rolene Strauss, former Miss SA, promised on the radio this morning that she will post exercise videos for the duration of the lockdown period. Follow her on https://www.facebook.com/OfficialRoleneStrauss/

  • If you have one tucked away somewhere, dust off and switch on that forgotten treadmill!
  • Learn a new skill
    • Get out a cookbook from your shelve and learn to cook or bake something. Start sommer with a lekke bread or beskuit. If you don’t have cookbooks, Google a recipe.
    • Watch YouTube videos to learn something new.
    • Or use a good language app to finally start learning a new language. We use Duolingo. (https://www.duolingo.com/) You can download the app on your phone.
  • Since we live in the Southern Hemisphere, do some Autumn cleaning. 😊
    • Clean those neglected places you know about but never get to cleaning.
    • Sort out your pantry and fridge and freezer if you haven’t done it before stocking up.
    • Sort out not-used clothing and keep it in bags to take to charity shops after the lockdown.
    • Clean out, sort out and declutter cupboards, drawers and all other spaces one at a time.
    • Sort out your photos and back it up on a hard drive if you can too. Use an app or software and make movie clips for family viewing during the lockdown.
  • Spice normal things up!
    • Make mealtimes fun! If you live in a house, set a table outside or on the stoep. You can also let the children ‘play’ restaurant-restaurant and have them serve the dishes. In between meals they can sell you coffee (or something stronger if you are in stock).
    • If you live in a flat or when it rains, a table in the sitting room will do too. Just a change of scenery is sometimes needed to lift the spirits.
    • Think outside the box to change the way you do things to spice it up a bit.

 Remember!

A lot of what we are going to do during the next few weeks, we will do while sitting or lying down. Apart from making sure you get enough exercise, also make sure that you don’t sit too much! Sitting for long periods of time can cause other problems that you really don’t need right now. As I’m saying this, I’m going to stop writing now, because I was following my own advice and wrote this whole article standing up behind the bar counter, a la Ernest Hemmingway, and I need to sit down now!

Stay healthy! Stay safe!

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© 2020 Fielies De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopefullest writer. Foreverest dreamer. Living in a coastal village in the Overberg, South Africa, with a husband and two dogs in a small heritage house, and an adult, recently-graduated, job-seeking son in the garden cottage. His CV is available on request. 🙂🙂🙂

 

Living outside of One’s Comfort Zone

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Just before having to get out of the way

My Weekly Musings #4

Last week, our American friends invited us to visit the camel bazaar outside Cairo (on the Giza/Sakkara road). We’ve been living here now for just short of three years and I have never been outside of my comfort zone so much in my life. It is literally a daily thing. It is good for me – especially for spiritual me. Not only does it teach me plenty about the world around me, the people of this country, their strange culture and their fanatic religion, but it also teaches me a lot about myself. Living in a culture where you do not understand the language and isn’t even able to read their alphabet or have the same traditions and customs or worship the same God, things can get quite uncomfortable.

It isn’t necessarily a bad thing being out of your comfort zone. It confronts one’s own beliefs, upbringing, culture, customs, world view and lifestyle when you are thrown into a world where nothing is familiar or make sense to you. Not only do you question the behaviour of the people around you, but you question your own. It is not a once off thing, but an ongoing everyday introspection. And not only do you learn to value what is ‘own’ to you, but you also learn to embrace and appreciate diversity. Very early on in our stay here, I have decided that I don’t understand much (not even a reasonable bit) of this culture, but that I am not even going to try to understand it. It makes life here a little bit easier and less complicated to observe rather than to label.

Back to the camel bazaar. I’m sure that this place wouldn’t even exist in a Western country. It’s a raw experience. Camels, by their hundreds, maybe even more, are brought together on a Friday morning to be sold I was told, mostly for meat. Men and (some very young) boys herd the animals – hopping along on three legs as one of the front legs is tied with rope to keep the animal from running away – towards the various ‘auction stations’ with long bamboo sticks. It isn’t a pretty picture to see. On the surface and in the viewpoint of a foreigner like me, it is a harsh place for a camel to be. And also for the people involved.

Upon arriving there, we were only four females in a sea of males – something that already pushes the discomfortometer into the red. The sticks hitting the camels’ bodies – be it on the humps, legs or head – is another difficulty to deal with. Furthermore, none of the camels looked like they had the potential for dinner I would want to see on my plate.

But I realised that it wasn’t my world. It wasn’t my place to judge. With that I don’t condone the behaviour of the people or the suffering of the animals. Sometimes in life things just are what they are – people making a living, surviving the only way they know how to the way they did for centuries – maybe even millennia. My disliking it, my discomfort and the fact that I might disapprove of their way of doing as a foreigner in their country, is not going to change that. I’m not going to alter a country’s culture, customs and actions which are way older than my own culture. What I should do is learn to appreciate it for what it is.

I realised that I would probably be out of my comfort zone many, many, many more times in the period we have left here in this interesting, phenomenal country. How I handle my discomfort is what is important. If I can’t change people’s behaviour or world view, I can at least work on my own. I can learn to value the diversity of this place and the other countries we are visiting, as well as that of my own country when we go back. Hopefully, when we are back in our own culture – which is just as diverse – I will be able to feel less uncomfortable in the mixture, while still staying true to my own upbringing and beliefs and being more tolerant towards people who are different from me.

In the end, when one sees the bigger picture from a forever-living-worldview, we are reminded that we who confess Him as our Saviour are one body in Messiah (Romans 12:5). One day we will be immersed into His culture and all the discomfort of worldly customs, poverty and illness will be something from the past.

PS: I spelled necessarily correct without using spell check or a dictionary.

© 2017 Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopeful Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.

The Hole-in-the-wallet, Laborious, Frustrating Process of Acquiring a Travel Visa

My Weekly  Musings #3/2017

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We are planning a visit to friends in New Zealand next month and with that, we are trying to obtain travel visas – something that wasn’t necessary for South African citizens only two or three months ago. But thanks to people abusing the system or hypocritical red tape or whatever, the New Zealand government now finds it necessary for us to get that little hated stamp in our passports. (And now the South African government reciprocated by implementing visas for Kiwis to visit SA! It makes no economic sense.) We are currently residing in Egypt and to get a visa, one’s passport has to travel to Dubai for this privilege! As if that is not uncomfortable enough, the costs are enormous! Not only is there the fee for the sought after stamp or little paper glued into your passport, but there are handling fees for the passports to get there and more separate handling fees for them to get back. And apart from the cost, the effort is just silly. After all the documents they’ve required were attached, they requested some more documents after receiving the passports.

There are many reasons governments give for requiring visas. Some might be legitimate, but I sometimes wonder if the visa process doesn’t just keep the good guys out. Because when there is an attack somewhere in the world and everybody is surprised by a person on a terrorist watch list carrying out the attack, l really question the system. Obviously, he loopholed the visa requirements. How can they get into a country so seemingly easy and us good guys have to carry out time consuming efforts and pay the financial penalties? As if travel tickets aren’t expensive enough.

We’ve received our passports back yesterday. There are no visa stamps or stickers in. Instead, they informed us that the visas are electronically issued against our passport numbers. We will get an email to confirm that.  An email! All that effort for an email! Where is my visa stamp?! I hope it works, because when we arrive in New Zealand after two flights of four and sixteen hours respectively, and they don’t allow us into their little country, I will leave a piece of my mind there!

Thankfully, after our patience being tested going through the process, I’m reminded of a place where we won’t need visas to go to one day. All we need is to confess the Truth. It is that simple. Or that Complicated. The choice is ours.

“To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God.” (From the Bible – Luke 8 verse 10)

© 2017 Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopeful Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.