If an anchor provides a source of security or stability, what could family anchors do for your loved ones?
A few years ago when I was in the middle of a video call with one of my email subscribers, she asked a question that made me stop and think: What family anchors do you recommend?
Frankly I’d never thought of the phrase “family anchors” before, but when I stopped to quickly consider what they were, I was pretty confident my husband and I weren’t tied to any.
Since that conversation, the phrase “family anchors” keeps coming to mind. And now, after mulling the question over for years, I’m confident that my husband and I have actually created many anchors for our family. But we never intentionally set out to do so.
What’s a Family Anchor?
If you consider the anchor of a ship, a heavy object is dropped into the water to keep the boat in place. An anchor offers support and security. When storms undoubtedly begin to rage, an anchor keeps your boat from being tossed out to sea, far off your intended course.
When thinking about family anchors, consider things you do that offer security, support, and stability. What consistent elements are part of your family’s day, week, month, or year?
Beliefs as Anchors
One of the most obvious and sure anchors to adopt as a family can be your faith.
Hebrews 6:19 affirms, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” If you believe and have put your hope and trust in Jesus, you can be sure that you’re anchored.
And if you share your belief with your family and pursue a faithful, constant walk with the Lord, you’ll be anchored.
In my family, we’ve used bedtime as “Bible Time.” We know when it’s Bible time, it’s time to head to the master bedroom to read the Bible together, pray, then say goodnight. In fact, we’ve done it so often our family dog even knows exactly where to go when someone calls out, “Bible Time!”
Routines as Anchors
Routines definitely make life easier and more predictable, and they can be viewed as anchors, too.
From the predictable way that you start your day to the usual time and place you go grocery shopping, routines can add structure and stability to your day.
A stable rhythm of life doesn’t only bring you ease or comfort; predictability brings a lot of peace to your family, too.
While it’s impossible for every day to go according to schedule, having a basic daily routine – from the times you wake up or go to bed or when you typically prepare and eat meals – brings an anchor of stability to your family.
Traditions as Anchors
Another fantastic (and oftentimes fun) kind of anchor comes in the form of family traditions.
Through traditions, not only do you and your family members have something to look forward to, but you also develop patterns and events that can define your family.
Family traditions can be as complex or as simple as you choose.
Some families return to the same vacation destination every year and keep an almost-ritualistic schedule, like the “we always eat at this restaurant on the first night of vacation.” Or “we always go _________(fishing/shopping/bike riding/fill-in-the-blank) the second to last day of our trip.” For other families, just going on an annual vacation together is tradition enough.
Some traditions, like Friday night pizza and movies or Saturday morning pancake breakfasts, are simple but might mean more to your kids than you might realize.
Other traditions, like always washing your family vehicles by hand on Memorial Day weekend or always going shopping together on the day after Thanksgiving, might start and continue just as a way to make your life easier.
Work has to get done sometime; if you’re working together and plan a specific time to do the work, it just might become an anchor. After our annual “Mulch Day,” my family knows we’ll order pizza for dinner because everyone’s too sore to bother cooking. Both the work and reward have become an expected anchor every spring.
Holidays as Anchors
One of the prime times for family traditions happens during the holidays. In fact, truly any holiday can become filled with family anchors. In my own family, we all look forward to:
- Charcuterie and family game night on New Year’s Eve.
- Pork chops, sauerkraut, and some goal setting, along with football games on New Year’s Day.
- Heavy appetizers for dinner in front of the TV on Super Bowl Sunday.
- Surf and turf dinner with a chocolate dessert on Valentine’s Day.
- Green pancakes and green, minty milk for breakfast on St. Patrick’s Day.
- A Passover Seder feast on Maundy Thursday, church on Good Friday, Easter morning church, and Easter afternoon egg hunts.
- A Mexican feast with tasty food and lively music on Cinco de Mayo.
- A 4th of July cookout with plenty of red, white, and blue decorations, corn on the cob, fresh watermelon, and homemade ice cream.
- A spooky movie with snacks for dinner around Halloween.
- The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, followed by a feast on Thanksgiving.
- Making homemade fudge to celebrate the first day of snow.
- Driving to see Christmas lights with cups of hot cocoa and Christmas cookies. (Or watching Christmas movies, also with hot cocoa and Christmas cookies.)
- Bacon, eggs, and cinnamon rolls for a Christmas morning breakfast.
Thanks to the special celebrations we try to repeat year after year, my family looks forward to time together, as well as seasonal specialties, almost once a month.
The Magic of Food
If you noticed, in most of my family’s traditions, we include food. In fact, throughout a year, we eat a lot of really delicious food together.
I love to use food as a uniter and a memory maker, because it uses different senses. Not only do you see it and smell it, but the taste of particular foods and particular times can really imprint memories in a special way.
Similarly, mealtimes make amazing anchors. Setting aside at least one meal a day to sit down and eat together as a family can bond you together like super glue. Aside from bonding, mealtimes help with mental, physical, and social health.
Your Own Family Anchors
So much of the beliefs, routines, traditions, holiday celebrations, foods, and mealtimes that you and your family share can turn into anchors. And that’s where you can spy the beauty in family anchors. They simply anchor your family in place in a way that will never mean the same to another family. They’re as unique and special as your own family members.