The holiday season is upon us and with that comes anticipated traditions for our family. Like many families, there are certain events and activities we love to include in our celebration of Christmas. Our kids have come to love and expect certain customs every December. Family traditions aren’t just about having fun or doing something because that’s just what we do as a family. Having family traditions at the Holidays can have a lasting impact on your kids long after they grow up and leave the house.
Holiday traditions provide comfort and security
In a world that is full of constant change, especially for kids and teenagers, it’s comforting to have traditions you can count on every year. There is anticipation and excitement looking forward to the holidays, but often there’s also security, hope and relief.
Our kids love decorating our Christmas tree. Every year, each family member gets a new ornament for our tree. Usually, the ornaments are related to somewhere we traveled, an event that occurred or something we were interested in that particular year. We’ve got to the point where we had to get a second smaller tree so we could fit most of the ornaments. At some point, they won’t all fit, but that’s ok.
At different times during the season, our kids can look at our tree and know that no matter what is happening in their lives, we are there for them. At some point they will grow up and move out, starting their own adult life. Those ornaments will become the beginning for their own tree and their own traditions. I like to think this small tradition also helps provide a sense of identity during a time when kids are questioning who they are and how they fit into this world.
Holiday traditions can strengthen family bonds
Families that spend time together grow closer to each other. It’s easy to get wrapped up our busy schedules with work, school, and running kids to various practices and activities. Holiday traditions provide built-in family time that can help you connect with your family. If your kids are like mine, sometimes they put up a fight when we suggest doing something together. However, once we actually are hanging out, they have fun.
A more recent tradition we’ve had is to head to Crocker Park for a nice dinner out with grandparents. Crocker Park also has great Christmas light displays and holiday events. Walking outside during the winter is probably our kids’ least favorite activity, but I’ve already had a couple kids ask when we were going there this year.
Holiday traditions can connect your family heritage
Some of the traditions we celebrate with our kids are the same traditions my wife and I grew up celebrating with our families. They may look slightly different because times have changed, but we still find a way to keep them going. Passing on holiday traditions helps connect our kids with their family tree. Whether it’s decorating Christmas cookies, hearing stories of Christmases past or an afternoon of sledding, we try to connect our kids with their ancestors. Our kids might not have had the chance to meet some family members, but we want our kids to know about them and their stories.
Holiday traditions can evolve over time as your family changes and grows
As much as we love traditions, sometimes traditions need to change or end. Kids grow up and start their own adult lives, with new traditions or variations of traditions. That’s hard for some parents to accept, but it’s a good thing. Maybe you just got married or had a child. This could be a good time to start a new family tradition. There is nothing wrong with that.
Sometimes a tradition needs to change because of tragedy. It would be naive to think the holidays are a joyful time for everyone with as much pain and suffering as there is in the world. The loss of a loved one can change the Christmas season forever. In those times, a holiday tradition can be a time of remembrance and reflection, but it can also bring back painful memories. In those times, everyone needs to make their own decision on how to handle long-standing traditions. It could mean a tradition ends or is just put on pause during a time of healing.
We have a Christmas Eve tradition that has evolved. My wife grew up opening up a present on Christmas Eve every year. Everyone in her family received Christmas pajamas. We’ve carried that tradition on with our kids, but after a few years, I realized…I don’t care for pajamas. I’m sure many people do, but to me, they are boring and a terrible first gift. Sorry, not sorry. I decided to ramp things up a bit and create a Christmas Eve box that included pajamas, a mug and a packet of hot chocolate, a book, and a movie. I don’t know how I got my wife to agree to this change, but the kids love it. You can find inexpensive movies and books during the Christmas shopping season, so it doesn’t cost too much to put together.
Holiday traditions don’t have to be elaborate or expensive
One of our family traditions is looking at Christmas light displays in the area. Sometimes it’s an elaborate plan to hit some of the more popular light displays like Nela Park. Other years, it’s simply driving around our own town. Throw in some donut holes and some hot chocolate and we are good to go. Lately, we’ve ended the night with ice cream at Sweet Moses or Mitchell’s, but it’s not necessary. Packing up all the kids in the minivan to see lights is more than enough. Sometimes family traditions can involve travel or large purchases, but for us, inexpensive local experiences are just as good.
What holiday traditions have you started or continued with your family? Share your family traditions in the comments to help other readers looking to start new traditions.