"I've just set the timer for 18 minutes," said Karen Helfand of Minneapolis to her 9-year-old daughter Rachel and Rachel's friend, Claire. That was the cue for the girls to dump and pour the measured flour and water on the counter and mix the simple dough with their hands to make matzo for Passover a few weeks ago.
They were learning that it's all about "time'" as they prepared and baked the dough in haste -- just as it was done by the Israelites thousands of years ago in Egypt when they escaped slavery and hurriedly fled for safety.
"We want our daughters to have a Passover Seder to remember," said Claire's mom, Patty Diamond of St. Louis Park, program director of Mayim Rabim Congregation in Minneapolis.
"When extended families gather around their tables and the plate with the horseradish -- representing the bitterness of slavery -- is served with matzo, the children will connect personally having measured, mixed and manipulated the unleavened dough themselves. Passover is our tradition, and we pass it on to our daughters, just as our mothers did for us," she said.
Traditions, religious and otherwise, can bring a sense of special identity to family life. And the good news is that just about anything your family enjoys doing together can become a special ritual that keeps you close.
And those rituals will no doubt have a few simple things in common: They are easy to do, you share them with your children, and they give you a "we."
"In our family,
You might think of traditions as a mosaic of your family's soul. They say who you are, where you are and where you come from.
Encase special life events and start calling them your own this spring and summer. These traditions bear repetition, not only because they are fun but also because you rekindle the wonder of relationships and family by doing them again and again.
As you fill your family calendar with kids' camps, gardening, ballgames, outings and vacations, think about how you can make a trip or activity a special tradition, a "we" event that defines who you are.
Remember, a family tradition doesn't have to cost a lot of money or be elaborate. Often, it's the simple and silly ideas that are treasured most. Pass them along from year to year and watch your family story become a living gift to your children.
Donna's in Haiti! To follow her as she travels with her OB/GYN daughter, Britt, on their unique "Take Your Mom to Work Day," like Donna's Day on Facebook. Twitter: @Donna_Erickson.
Donna Erickson's award-winning series "Donna's Day" is airing on public television nationwide. To find more of her creative family recipes and activities, visit donnasday.com and link to the NEW Donna's Day Facebook fan page. Her latest book is "Donna Erickson's Fabulous Funstuff for Families."