Family traditions are the rituals and practices a family shares that strengthen that family’s bonds and create lasting memories. Traditions, those things we do much the same way repeatedly, provide a source of identity, comfort, and security. They reinforce family values. Kids love traditions!
Traditions assure families that even in an uncertain and changing world, there are some things they can count on to always be the same.
Family traditions can be elaborate and complex or simple but meaningful.
According to Scientific American, the time we spend focusing on anticipation, experiences, and simply being together can profoundly impact how much we enjoy life.
What qualifies as a tradition?
As 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, and 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.
Ideas to get started
Need a nudge to start some new traditions in your family this holiday season? Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
Idea: Honor your family’s heritage by teaching your kids how to make the foods of that country or region. Learn the songs and customs of that culture.
Idea: As Christmas draws nearer, visit your community to look at the lights. You can do this on a night close to Christmas. Everyone gets ready for bed (PJs on, teeth brushed), then the whole family piles into the car for your family’s Annual Christmas Lights Pajama Caper Drive. Take blankets along to add coziness. Only the adults know the exact time this will happen! Choose your favorite house—everyone in the family gets a vote. If you’re incredibly ambitious, drop off a Christmas card thanking them for “brightening” your holiday season.
Idea: When no one is looking, Santa’s elves string Christmas lights in the kids’ rooms. No matter how often you do this, it will still be the best surprise.
Idea: Establish a decadent, yummy entree or special treat you eat only on Christmas morning. Let your mind wander. The more decadent, the better! Something like these Cinnamon Rolls, perhaps?
Idea: In the days before Christmas, establish a Hot Chocolate Bar set up in a central area. In addition to your homemade mix, add jars of fun toppings like sprinkles, mini marshmallows, candy canes, and so on. Make sure it’s ready to go, especially when the kids come in from playing in the snow.
Idea: If yours is a somewhat musical family, bring back the classic tradition of bundling up to go caroling throughout the neighborhood. You’ll do better if you have caroling books with musical scores and lyrics so everyone is on the same tune and verse. Don’t be surprised if others in the neighborhood want to join you on your journey. That could make the tradition even better.
Idea: The first night that the tree is decorated and lit, the whole family sleeps around it. Kids love the magic of falling asleep with the tree lights on!
Do you have a Christmas tradition that holds your family together? We would love for you to share in the comments below. Keep it brief and avoid specific personal info (age, names, etc.). Thanks!