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

Traditions: The Glue the Holds Families Together

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.

Need a nudge to start some new traditions in your family this holiday season? Here are a few ideas to get started.

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, go out into 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 especially ambitious, drop off a Christmas card thanking them for “brightening” your holiday season.

RELATED: Family Countdown to Christmas

IDEA: When no one is looking, Santa’s elves string Christmas lights in the kids’ rooms. No matter how many times 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: For the 12 days before Christmas establish a Hot Chocolate Bar that you set up in a central area on a tray. In addition to your Homemade Mix, add jars of fun toppings like sprinkles, mini marshmallows, candy canes and so on. Make sure it’s all ready to go especially when the kids come in from playing in the snow.  

IDEA: If yours is a fairly 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 score and lyrics so everyone is on the same tune and verse at the same time. Don’t be surprised if others in the neighborhood want to join you on your journey. That could make the tradition even better. 

IDEA: Create a new tradition for Christmas with The Kindness Elves, an alternative to the popular Elf on the Shelf idea. The point is to focus on positive, character-building activities for kids. Teaching love, kindness and gratitude is the action with a hope to raise kids who move away from entitlement attitudes, which is creeping into our modern generation.

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? Scroll down to the comments area below to share, please!

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13 replies
  1. DianaC
    DianaC says:

    This year was our 31st year of having Christmas Caroling at our home. It started the year we got a piano and has been carried on each year since. Family and friends gather, each bringing an appetizer to share, music books are at the ready and glass mason jars are lit outside on the sidewalk and driveway. At the end of the evening each person draws a “12 days of Christmas” ornament out of the box and they get to sing that line when it comes up – a yearly favorite. Especially when the small children get one. Our crowds have ranged from 14 to 28, each year different, but always a fun event!

  2. Deb Westmoreland
    Deb Westmoreland says:

    I picked up this tradition over 45 years ago from a good friends family and we have practiced it ever since. On Christmas Eve, once the family all arrives we each get a glass of wine (grape juice), we have special glasses for this that we only use on Christmas Eve, our nativity set is waiting for baby Jesus, we don’t lay him in the manger till then, I keep track of who puts baby Jesus in the manger every year and when the family arrives I pull that person aside and give them the statue and it is there turn to place it, we gather round the manger, with all the lights dimmed and sing “Happy Birthday” to baby Jesus and then that person lays him in his manger celebrating his birth. Afterwards we all toast each other, the holiday and whatever we are grateful for, turns the night into a celebration of “Love”

  3. Pamela Martin
    Pamela Martin says:

    I make my version on BBQ chicken pizza with my homemade sauce Christmas Eve. One year I suggested we do BBQ chicken sandwiches instead and almost had a mutiny on my hands. Tradition spoke loudly!!

  4. Kay Jones
    Kay Jones says:

    My mother declared Christmas Eve a night free from cooking because of all the work the next day. 65 plus years ago the only take out open on Christmas Eve was our local Chinese restaurant. We went to Bing’s and got wonderful food to enjoy around the fireplace. The first year after my mother died, my dad came to spend Christmas with me. We went to my favorite Chinese restaurant because I thought he’d like the memory of our tradition. The weather was awful and I almost decided not to go, but pushed through. When we went in I heard a great commotion and found my father hugging the owner….who I thought he’d never met. He was a man who had worked with my dad in Saigon and who had escaped on a boat. My father was afraid he had died in the chaos at the end of the war. Small world and a wonderful Christmas.

  5. sueherm
    sueherm says:

    When my children were little, we would decorate a gingerbread house together. I would bake all the pieces in advance, now I think you can buy kits with the pieces premade. It didn’t start out to be a tradition. I did it one year, then the next year, my then-five year old daughter said to me, “when are we going to do the candy house? We ALWAYS do the candy house!”

    Also, we would go to a community production of The Nutcracker.

  6. jimijean
    jimijean says:

    Family Christmas tradition:

    My kids grew up on an Illinois farm. Crops, animals, garden, the

    works. Our trdition began on our way home from the Children’s Christmas Eve

    Service as we sang “Jesus Our Brother kind and good was humbly born in

    a stable rude”. We had the bright idea we could treat the animals in

    thanks for their welcome to the Christ Child. So we raided the fridge

    and got grain and hay from the bins and loft in the barn. All got

    treats, cattle, horses and ponies, cats, dogs, sheep, pigs (we sort of

    ignored the Jewish anathema), chickens and pigeons because we didn’t

    have doves. It was a fine finish for a clear, cold Christmas night.

  7. Linda Ziulkowski
    Linda Ziulkowski says:

    I am a nurse, my husband a pastor. Not every year, but many, I would be working on Christmas Eve. My husband and children would attend the Christmas eve service at church, then stop by KFC, one of the only open restaurants in our area, and bring KFC to work where we would sit down to a ‘fancy’ dinner – they would bring table cloths and china, the works, – and we would have our family Christmas eve dinner together. Once my children were grown, and left home, and lived a continent or more away from us, our daughter was home one Christmas,and not to miss out on the tradition of bringing dinner to work, after the services at church, she and my husband came to work with the full turkey dinner she had cooked, trimmings and all, as well as tablecloth, china, etc. She had also invited a single friend without family around to join for our meal together. Traditions sure do ‘stick’

  8. Marilyn
    Marilyn says:

    One year my mother odered a thin plastic life-sized santa that you stuffed with newspapers from that smaller-sized catalogue that carried everything under the sun. When Santa came to life with his newspaper stuffing, she placed him on a bench in our yard. My dad got the humorous idea of putting santa’s feet in a bucket with some dry ice to make it look like he is soaking tired feet. Much to their surprise they won third that year in the town’s decorating contest. Well then the game was on! They’d spend 3 months designing and my dad building more elaborate displays, ultimately winning them top prize a couple of years. One year he had Rudolph hoisting Santa up the side of our house with a pulley. When you’re 16 and the whole town is driving past your house it was kind of embarrasing, but looking back I treasure the memory of those displays and the fun and pride my folks felt creating them.


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