The holiday season is a time where family traditions take center stage. Something about this time of year invokes the feelings of remembering our youth and the activities and feelings that bind us together as families. Perhaps it is a favorite holiday movie or a classic Christmas album. For some it is time gathered in the kitchen baking favorite foods and sharing family memories. For many it is special acts of service and reaching out to those in need. It’s not just the simple act of carrying on the tradition but the purpose behind the tradition that makes it so valuable.
What are the purposes behind traditions? While there are many, here are two important ones:
1. Traditions Link Generations:
Family encompasses not just our own current family but those that came before and those that come after. It gives us a sense of belonging to something bigger than ourselves.
As a child my husband fondly remembers gathering in front of the television to watch his father’s favorite movie, “A Christmas Carol”—the 1984 version starring George C. Scott. It was a time where his family could put away the childish squabbles, clear their busy schedules and settle down together to enjoy a good message. What was my father in law’s favorite Christmas movie is now my husband’s favorite as well. It’s a tradition that we have carried on with our own children, and while there is some gentle chiding and grumbling on the part of our teenagers, in truth, they love it because it’s important to their father. It’s a tradition that will hold special meaning this year as we gift this movie to our two married children who are starting families of their own.
2. Traditions Teach Family Values:
Many people I know carry out family traditions of service this time of year. Several families go caroling to an assisted living home on Christmas morning. Another family plans and carries out “The Twelve Days of Christmas” to a family needing extra love. Many others make holiday treats and deliver them to neighbors and friends. By continuing the tradition of thinking more about others than themselves they are instilling family values of service and unselfishness, something we all want for our families.
It’s also important to remember that it’s never to late to start your own family traditions. If you’d like ideas, this podcast episode at Power of Families Radio is a great place to start: Simple and Meaningful Holiday Traditions
Whether our traditions are on a large scale or a small one, they all serve to increase our sense of family. Particularly at this time of year we are drawn to the need to carry them on and share them with those we love.
What about your own family? What is your favorite family tradition and why do you choose to carry it on? Please share your answer in the comments below!