Families are gearing up to celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza and the many other winter holidays that are upon us. While this can be a stressful time, it can also be a joyous time of family connection. How each family celebrates is unique.
The other day I was culling out photos from my phone. I came across a photo of my dad taken in the late-1960s and was instantly flooded with memories. In the photo he was painting two reindeer that would grace our front porch at Christmastime for decades to come. Those reindeer, along with a Santa, are a cherished family tradition.
Even though my parents have passed, my brother and his family have ensured that the traditions we had as children live on. Christmas Eve wouldn’t be Christmas Eve without a blending of my mother’s Czechoslovakian family recipes and a variety of fish to honor my father’s Italian heritage. The food is fattening, but anything short of these traditions would simply feel wrong. We happily indulge in the extra calories and complain about how miserable we feel afterwards. That too, is part of the tradition.
Rituals and traditions bind people together because they can be counted on. We know what will happen, what to expect. Traditions make us feel a part of something bigger, creating a sense of safety and emotion connection.
When couples join together they often have to compromise and blend their family traditions, creating a new and unique culture. By doing so it becomes part of their shared meaning.
Examine Your Rituals
The holiday season is the perfect time to examine your rituals and traditions. You may have more than you realize.
Do you have special ornaments to place on the Christmas tree?
Do you have a ritual for lighting the Menorah candles?
What holiday foods are special for your family?
Do you watch your favorite Christmas shows?
Do you decorate gingerbread houses?
Do you go see a live performance of The Nutcracker?
Do you have an Elf on the Shelf?
Sharing the tradition and the story that goes along with it is important. This holiday season, as you pull the boxes from the attic or dust off the old recipe cards, take a moment and share the story of these rituals with your loved ones. Help the tradition live on.