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A Lovely Family Tradition…Suggested by the Author of FIGHT CLUB?

Posted Oct 26 2009 11:00pm

Two of my happiness-project resolutions are Take time for projects and Enjoy this seasons and this time of life. These are family-directed resolutions, meant to make sure that I put the time and effort into holidays, family projects, and fun outings.

I came up with these resolutions because the year before my happiness project, Halloween came and went without us carving a pumpkin, and I was utterly appalled by myself. To my mind, that’s Mommy malpractice, even though my daughters didn’t seem to mind much. (Lesson learned: we bought and carved a pumpkin yesterday.)

Because of these resolutions, I’m always looking for fun and also manageable ways to do family projects or celebrate family traditions. For example, I love holiday breakfasts – an idea I lifted from a friend.

I just got a new idea from an unexpected source. I’m a raving Chuck Palahniuk fan, but I don’t turn to his novels for inspiration for lovely ways to celebrate traditions with my children. No, there’s a lot you can get from Fight Club and Choke and Survivor, but sweet family traditions aren’t there.

On the suggestion of a thoughtful reader, however, I picked up a copy of Palahniuk’s non-fiction essays, Stranger Than Fiction, and I was captivated by an idea I read about in “The People Can.” Palahniuk describes the lives of the crew of the Navy submarine the Louisiana, and he explains the tradition of Halfway Night.

“Before departure, the family of each man on board gives Chief of Boat Ken Biller a shoe-box-sized package, and on the night that marks the halfway point in the patrol, called Halfway Night, Biller distributes the boxes. Smith’s wife sends photos and beef jerky and a toy motorcycle to remind him of his own bike on shore. Greg Stone gets a pillowcase printed with a photograph of his wife, Kelley.”

I’m enchanted by the idea of “Halfway Night.” It seems like a great idea to adapt to any arduous situation, to something truly awful like chemotherapy, or just extremely tiresome, like studying for the bar exam.

I can’t think of something in my life right now that would lend itself to a Halfway Night, but I’m squirreling the idea away for the proper occasion.

Have you hit upon an tradition to ease a difficult situation? Have you tried something like Halfway Night?

* I spent a lot of time cruising around Parents Connect -- "we're not perfect, we're parents."

* If you're interested in launching a group for people who meet to do their happiness projects together, sign up for the starter-kit. More than 3,000 people have requested it. You might also like to check out the Facebook conversation for group leaders -- that's a good resource if you're trying to get started.

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