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What must be nearly 40 years ago, while waiting in the grocery store line with my two little boys in tow—I picked up a small holiday recipe book from the folks at Pillsbury Publishing.

What caught our collective attention was the adorable Teddy Bear on the cover—made with bread dough.

That year, and several years to follow, the three of us we made Teddy Bears for family gifts, and what a hit!

teddy-bear-bread

It became a tradition, or so my younger son reminds me—and one of his very best childhood Christmas memories.

A lot has happened over the years, enough so that a few weeks ago when he asked me to continue this tradition with his boys—our two grandchildren—I was nonplussed. Vaguely I recalled the Teddy Bears, but not in such keen detail as Josh.

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Family traditions are the rituals and practices a family shares that strengthen that family’s bonds and create lasting memories.

Multi Generation-Family-Praying-Before-Christmas-Meal

Traditions, those things we do much the same way over and over again, provide a source of identity,  comfort, and security. They reinforce family values. Kids love traditions!

Traditions can be elaborate and complex or simple but meaningful.

According to this study cited in this article from The Atlantic, the time we spend focusing on anticipation, experiences, and simply being together can have a profound impact on how much we enjoy life.

Traditions give families assurance that even in an uncertain and changing world, there are some things they can count on to always be the same.

The way I see it, anything you do in the same way at the same time, year after year becomes a tradition. Whatever it is, if you’ve done it once but plan to do it again, it counts as a tradition. 

Make a list of your family’s best traditions. Talk about them, treat them with a sense of respect and joy. Explore ideas for intentionally spending meaningful time together and then repeat often.

In time, your family traditions—especially those related to Christmas—will become trusted anchors in your children’s lives.

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