I have met many children over the years raised with meaningful traditions. These kids seem to have a sense of spirituality and wonder, a connection with nature, and a strong relationship with their families. My guess is that many of their childhood traditions will live on in future generations.
The most beautiful and effective celebrations cost little or nothing. Here's how you might begin creating your own celebrations and traditions:
Beat the midwinter blues. Don't forget those holidays that get you through to spring--and brighten up the down period between Christmas and the warmer weather. Have a family Valentine's Dinner--lots of red candles, lacy doilies, little white lights wrapped around the room, and heart-shaped food. Even President's Day is an opportunity to come together as a family. You might talk about what makes a good leader, read stories about Washington and Lincoln, and say what each of you would do to make the world a better place if you were president.
Make ordinary days special. Declare the first Friday of each month a Good Luck Day in your family. Finding a ladybug in the house means magic is on the way. With very young children, days of the week can have enchanting names, Magic Monday, Totally Terrific Tuesday, Wondrous Wednesday--and so on. Create Sibling Day. Pick a Saturday during the year when children can make gifts for each other and celebrate what's special about their sister or brother.
Create family holidays. Celebrate the day you moved into your home, your cat's birthday, the day your grandparents became American citizens. A family I know takes their children out of school each year on the day they were engaged to mark the special event. They do something together, such as hike up a mountain or go to the beach, and give thanks for Mom and Dad's beautiful relationship.
Applaud the growth process. Give a toast, write a poem, or create a special ceremony to acknowledge the life stages of those you love--a baby's first step, the first night without a diaper, the first day of first grade, the first library card, becoming a teenager, getting a driver's license.
Mark an accomplishment or an event. Celebrate a butterfly sighting or geese flying south, a fresh snowfall, a field goal, a part in a play, a lost object found, a new haircut, Picture Day at school. A toddler who lives on our street cherishes the simple ritual of turning on the vacuum cleaner for his mom, then pushing the button that magically "eats" the cord when she is done.