Jennifer Trainer Thompson is the author of 12 books and her articles on science, food, travel, and lifestyle have appeared in many publications. She has gathered a wonderful collection of 400 celebrations and activities organized around the four seasons. Included are Jewish and Christian and Muslim holidays, birthdays, weddings, birth of a child, start of school year, and last day of school, Thanksgiving and Christmas, and coming-of-age rituals. Today, when family time seems to be limited due long work hours for parents and extra-curricular activities of children, it's even more important to have ways to bring everyone together to share important moments, holidays, special occasions and milestones.

Here is a sampler of activities:

• For the Last Day of School
Make a sign for the front door: "Congratulations Mary! You're Going to Be a 5th Grader!" or whatever is appropriate. The sign can hang in the child's room for a month.

• Birth of a Child
Write your baby a letter within a week of his birth while you still have the emotional intensity that you won't remember six months later.

• A Birthday Ritual
Give the birthday child a crown to wear all day, and let her choose all manner of things: the menu for the day's meals, who sits where in the car, and which songs are played on the radio. Plus the birthday child doesn't have to do chores.

• A Thanksgiving Ritual
One family places an index card and pen at each place setting. Each person writes the name of the person to their left at the top of the card, then writes something about that person for which they are thankful. The card is passed to the right so the next person can add to the list. Eventually, each card will make its way around the table. Take turns reading the thank-you cards aloud after the meal.