Glenn Mitchell reflects on the tradition around holidays and celebrating this new holiday

In case you’re out of the loop, and your boss forgot to tell you, this is a long weekend. It’s called Family Day and it’s only been around for a couple years so it’s not that surprising that some of us might have forgotten that we actually get an extra day off at this time of year.

I mean at least the other holidays usually have some sense of tradition. Some even have more religious or patriotic reasons for their being in the first place so we’re quite comfortable with Easter and Canada Day and most of the others that have been around for, well, longer than most of us anyway.

The Queen’s birthday is losing significance over the years, but, hey, I’ll take the day in May.

And I’ll take a day in February too,l thank you very much.

However, I think we need to establish some traditions for Family Day that give it a little more meaning than just another day off.

And ski hills have rightfully jumped on board as it’s a perfect time for mom and dad and junior A and junior B to hit the slopes.

Of course getting junior A and junior B to actually hit the slopes with mom and dad after they turn a certain age (that’s the kids not the adults), is sometimes difficult but at least you can share the ride up and down the mountain and talk about your day so there’s some sharing going on.

However, if they are on their phones, even that can be difficult too. When their heads are down and their fingers are moving at a couple million miles an hour (I’m not sure what that is in metric terms), it’s hard to know if they’re listening to you or not. Of course they’ll grunt that they are, in fact they might grunt that they are even if they aren’t engrossed in their phones, but that’s an age-old problem.

The next opportunity for family bonding might be at the dinner table and that’s where I actually have established rules about electronic devices.

They’re banned.

Now I’m not going to self-righteously try and tell you that we eat at the dinner table every night, we don’t. But we shoot for once a week, or so, therefore there’s a no-text, no-twitter, no-instagram, no-Facebook, no-Hotmail zone for, oh, 12 minutes or so.

Heavy sigh.

I know I’m old but it’s striking me that in this mega-connected world we’re living  in, we’re somehow communicating less, at least face-to-face anyway.

Now I hesitate to sound too much like an old fart because even I can admit that in  many ways I know more about what’s going on in my kids’ life than my parents did, just like they took more of an interest than their parents did, and so on and so on.

Although that’s partly because we trust the outside world less (ironically because we likely know our neighbours and their neighbours less than in our parents’ day), and we are paranoid about every little thing (partly again because we have so much damn information coming at us all the time and it’s difficult to put into context) so we worry about everything and pretty much demand to know where our kids are at all times (because thanks to technology it’s doable).

No wonder Maclean’s magazine lead story this week is about the modern-day phenomenon that so many of us tap into 24/7 – worrying.

Anyway, as usual, I’m getting a little off track here but hopefully my point is somewhere between the lines.

It’s Family Day. Establish a family tradition that will make it meaningful this year and for many years to come. I’m pretty sure that’s how traditions are established.

If anything, make a point of at least hugging your kid this weekend. Just make sure he or she puts their phone down first, though, because if it drops on the ground they can be expensive to fix.

Happy Family Day everyone and enjoy the long weekend however you see fit.