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What’s Your Legacy?

It’s funny the things that stick out in your mind. When I think of my granddad, I usually see him next to granny at the pinochle table, leaning back in his chair to light his pipe and sneaking a glance at granny’s cards. Three generations later, pinochle is now our family’s traditional game of choice, and granddad’s card legacy is fondly recalled at least once during each game.

Traditions are important; not only do they unify you in the present, they allow you to reach back through the years and connect with loved ones who may have passed. In this way, traditions and family legacy are often intertwined. I bet you can think of at least one thing (a certain breakfast each Christmas morning, watching the World Series every year, etc.) you do because it’s something your family has always done.

“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” so goes the saying. Whether you volunteer at a food kitchen every weekend or occasionally take a casserole to an ailing friend, your doings will affect your children’s viewpoint on the world and on you. And often it’s the little actions, repeated frequently enough, that make the biggest impact. They become legacy.

Unfortunately, this also happens with negative legacies. Research shows that children are twice as likely to smoke when their parents do. Similarly, when parents are obese, sedentary, or abuse alcohol, their children are much more prone to do so. Even beyond children, your behavior in these areas will impact your friends, spouse, siblings, and others who care about you. If it’s acceptable for you, there’s a greater chance that others will see it as acceptable for them.

Change is never easy, but it starts with you. If your kids have learned that Saturdays are for junk food and TV, don’t just tell them something different – show them. Go for a family bike ride, help an elderly neighbor with their yard work together, or coach your child’s sports team. Lead by example, and leave a healthy legacy. Your loved ones will remember many things about you, so make those memories as positive as you can. Keep moving, my friends!

– Alan

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