Weird traditions create great culture (a family story)

Last year on vacation at Gulf Shores I stood on the balcony and noticed a cool pier down the beach. So, for one of our family activities, I suggested that we walk to it. My wife and I set out with our five kids in tow and headed to the pier. After about an hour of walking, we still weren’t at the pier, and I began to realize my mistake. Apparently when standing on a 13th-floor balcony looking down a clear beach the pier looks close, but in reality, that pier wasn’t close at all. But, when this epiphany struck it was too late, and we needed to push on to make it to the pier.

When we finally got there another realization dawned on me. There we were with five kids, on a walk that took much longer than expected, and it was now nearing lunch time! Not only were the kids tired from a long walk, but now they were hungry too. The pier did not have a lunch venue, but it did have a little concession stand, and that concession stand did have candy bars! You can guess what I did next. Yep, we ate candy bars for lunch, full-size ones! The kids loved it. After sugar overload, we walked back to the condo. I think the walk was about 5 miles in all, and their little legs were tired, but their hearts were happy.

We came back to the beach this year. Can you guess what tradition the kids were talking about on the way down? Sure enough, we headed out yesterday morning to the pier, battling a cold wind that blew sand to sting our legs. We made it there, got our candy bars and headed back. And, the kids loved it!

I tell this story to point out one thing. In building a family culture or company culture, it is important to have weird traditions with unexpected fun. These are the traditions that people will talk about and remember. These are the traditions that bind us together. These are the traditions we anticipate and tell other people about.

Here are a few photos from our adventure:

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