A good friend of mine, Lori, went back to college and just recently graduated. She planned to skip the graduation. After all, as an adult with a husband and two kids wouldn’t it just be selfish to make them do all that—and it’s just a formality, right? But at the last minute, she realized getting her diploma in the mail dishonored the significance of this accomplishment in her life. She also talked about the chance to reinforce important messages to her kids about never quitting and dreaming big. So they’re traveling a few hours to the university campus, staying in a bed and breakfast, and making a full day of the graduation experience. Lori decided to engage in ceremony to enrich her and her family’s life.
In my last post, I shared how I also learned to appreciate the influence potential of ceremonies. Read that if you’re not convinced. This post is for my friend, and everyone like her, wanting to know how to enhance the ceremonies of our lives.
Create a Special Place: The most typical example is a stage, or even just forming a circle of people. But you could also go to a special location, like engagement proposals on the mountaintops and beaches, or leaders going offsite for the retreat or award ceremony. Where you do an activity can make the difference between mundane and memorable. Tweet This
Idea for Lori: in addition to the graduation ceremony, plan a special meal for the family to have their own ceremony.
Tell The Story: Whatever you are honoring has a story—and humans remember stories. Here are some tips for telling the story. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Share…
- the previous situation, especially the challenge or problem in it
- the choice made by those being honored
- the price paid (effort, struggle, etc)
- the result now
Idea for Lori: Over dinner, have your husband tell this story to commemorate what you’ve done and reinforce these lessons with your kids
Gift a special object: From biblical times to modern university, people have used special objects to help a ceremony live on in our memories. From stacking twelve stones to diplomas to an employees picture on the wall, something tangible extends the value of a ceremony into the rest of our lives.
Idea for Lori: Lori will get a diploma from the school. But her husband and kids (hint, hint) could get her something special to give to her during the dinner.
Close with a special statement: Weddings close with, “I now pronounce you…” Presidential Inaugurations close with a formal oath. If you create something special you can say at the end, something that connects with the message of the ceremony, it will take the entire moment to the next level.
Idea for Lori: Close the special meal with the family making a promise to each other or praying a special prayer together.
This is not an exhaustive list. In fact, I’d love to hear more ideas from you on how to make ceremonies more meaningful and memorable. But hopefully this will get you started as you evaluate and enhance the ceremonies in your life.