Traditions are important because they impact our lives in such a positive way. The holiday season is a time full of traditions. At Thanksgiving we have special food we eat, we spend time with people and visit the places we know. Christmas is also full of customs with festivities, celebrations, decorations, treats and time with family. Learn to see the good in keeping traditions and appreciate the happiness they bring to our lives.
What are Traditions?
Traditions are rituals, stories, beliefs, customs and routines that we share and pass on. They can be cultural, familial or religious and are unique to your family or tribe. It is the rituals, both big and small, that tend to create lasting memories. They are often more important than the physical gifts that we give and receive.
Some traditions will evolve and change over time and that is normal. Families blend together, people move and life situations change. Customs adapt to our lives as much as we adapt to the customs around us
Benefits of Traditions
Traditions are important in our lives and provide many benefits. We intentionally create and continue traditions because they provide a sense of belonging and meaning to our lives. Family rituals nurture connection and give us comfort. The special customs and rituals we have give us something to look forward to and something to hope for. They help us anticipate what is to come.
“Family traditions counter alienation and confusion. They help us define who we are; they provide something steady, reliable and safe in a confusing world.”—Susan Lieberman
Traditions also provide a constant for us in an ever-changing and fast-paced life. In that way, they ground us. One of the most important rituals a family can do is eat dinner together (more on the benefits of family dinners here). Traditions remind us of who we are and where we belong. The memories attached to the rituals of our lives are strong and give us a feeling of connectedness to a time, place or person.
Why Traditions are Important
I urge you to make time for special traditions this holiday season. They often take time and maintenance and it is easy to decide the effort isn’t worth it. However, the effort truly is worth it! The benefits and impact of creating and maintaining traditions will more than outweigh the work involved. The joy and connectedness you feel will make you realize it is all worthwhile.
Favorite Holiday Traditions
Going into the last few weeks before Christmas I am going to try and pause my busy-ness to make time for baking our favorite cookies, sitting down and watching our yearly Christmas movies, filling the advent calendars, singing along to Christmas carols and joyfully attending the yearly concert and play.
One of my favorite family traditions is decorating our Christmas tree. Each year we get the tree set up with lights and garland. Then, a few days later, we decorate the tree with all of the special ornaments we’ve collected over the years. Our kids are given a special ornament that represents something special about their year….a place they visited, a sport they played or an interest they have. As we sit together around the tree and take the ornaments out, one by one, we talk and laugh about the story or memory attached to it.
Our tree is covered in mismatched but meaningful decorations and it tells such a story. Someday, when the kids are grown and in homes of their own, I may change the tradition and have a designer looking tree in our living room. But for now, nothing is more beautiful to me than this expression of our family.
A new tradition we’ve started in the last couple of years is to volunteer at a Christmas store for those in need. We donate and wrap gifts, help people shop and provide a beautiful and meaningful Christmas experience for those who need it the most. We now look forward to this day of serving each year and find so much joy in being a part of something bigger than ourselves.
Challenge for this Week:
What are some new traditions you can start? Maybe a tradition of serving others and volunteering together as a family? Is there something from your childhood that you remember with fondness that you want to start doing now? It is never too late to start a new tradition.
Need inspiration for new traditions? Try something from this list of fun holiday traditions and there are over 400 ideas for traditions for every season and time of the year in this book, “The Joy of Family Traditions”, by Jennifer Trainer Thompson”.