Did you know this Sunday, August 4, is American Family Day? While officially recognized as a public holiday in Arizona, it’s a perfect way to celebrate your family and build deep bonds. But we don’t need an official holiday to celebrate family. You can choose any day that works for you. Family Day celebrates what makes your family unique, what you’ve overcome, or what each family member has accomplished in the past year.
Author and speaker Sally Clarkson says, “Remembering just what defines the ‘Clarksons’ and reviewing our values, traditions, tastes, memories and pictures reminds us again why we are all tied together by invisible and unbreakable strings at the heart. Taking time to affirm all the things we like about our family and one another builds each person’s sense of worth and belonging to this tribe!” To help design your own day, here are 10 ways to celebrate American Family Day.
1. Tell family stories.
Evenings of storytelling have been all but lost. Every family has hilarious and harrowing stories of life and the people who shaped it. As our family shares favorite memories, I’ve heard stories from my kids of events I never knew about. And they, in turn, love hearing stories of older times and older family members.
2. Research your family heritage.
Do your kids know about their great-grandparents? Do they know their ancestry and how your family came to be in this country or in your state? It’s easier than ever to research family history and find important records.
3. Take family photos.
Document the day through photos. Instead of waiting for perfect outfits or a perfect hair day, capture your family through snapshots. As I look back over our family photos, it’s the snapshots rather than the airbrushed professional pictures that stand out. They show what our family is really like and how life really is.
4. Visit favorite family spots.
We love to go back to our college town and show my kids where their dad and I met, dated, and got married. We eat at the restaurant where we had our first date, show them the church where we got married, and revisit the place where our family started.
5. Play some games.
Spend an evening with some favorite board games or let everyone share through High-Low-Surprise. Each family member shares their best moment, their hardest moment, and their most surprising moment from the past year. It’s a great way to recap, especially as older kids move away.
6. Walk down memory lane.
Growing up, my dad would pull out the projector with his carefully curated slides once a year. We already had seen the pictures but still loved laughing and reminiscing over them. Family Day is a great time to watch old family movies or look through photo albums.
7. Affirm each other.
In the busyness of life, we often assume the people in our families know we love them. Taking time to affirm each other deepens family relationships. On Family Day, encourage one another by having each family member share what they love, like, enjoy, or admire most about every other family member.
8. Make memorial stones.
Sally Clarkson writes about making annual memorial stones. They start by reading Joshua 4:19-24. Joshua commands the 12 Hebrew tribes to set up memorial stones to mark God’s faithfulness. The Clarksons then share how God has been faithful to them that year, illustrating each instance on paper, and storing the illustrations in their Family Day notebook.
Friends of ours host a much-anticipated family competition day each year that includes tennis, volleyball, and field games. Their family is crazy about sports and this fun family day now includes grandchildren, in-laws, and extended family. They hand out trophies and keep running stats from year to year.
10. Create a family vision statement.
A family vision statement sets values, principles, priorities, and purposes for your family. It includes you and your children, individually and collectively. It’s unique to your family and helps define your family. Once crafted, this Family Name Mission Statement will help you remember it.
Have you passed your favorite family stories along to your kids?