Celebrate occasions with enthusiasm and delight. Create the kind of family life where events are observed consistently, where you and your kids can begin to look forward to birthdays, the winter holidays, or Mother's or Father's Day with anticipation, because everyone knows it's going to be special.

It doesn't matter what events or occasions you choose to celebrate, and you don't have to make a big deal about every one of them, although you might want to. Talk with your kids and other family members about this. If you want to go away for a summer holiday, decide to go on Memorial Day, Independence Day, or Labor Day, if you can't manage to go away on all of them. You can do the same thing every year or vary your activities. If you want to celebrate Mother's Day and you have three siblings, get together and agree to spend each year in a different home. Help build camaraderie by rotating responsibilities.

Children love celebrations, as do adults who still feel like children from time to time. And if your family pays attention to these special times, you create wonderful memories that will stay with you and your kids forever. Ask for their participation. Include them in the planning of the event. When I was a child my family always made a big deal about my birthday (which happens to be Lincoln's Birthday — a school holiday in those days, to boot), the major Jewish holidays, and Mother's and Father's days. Everyone in my extended family — grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins — got together to eat a fabulous meal and catch up with one another. Even my uncles who lived some distance from us came into town, which was always a special treat.

If your family is not close by, or you don't have one you feel comfortable with, you can always create a family atmosphere with friends. You can actually choose your family. Traditions are just as deep and satisfying with friends as they are with blood relatives — sometimes more so.

Alan Epstein in How to Have More Love in Your Life