One of my favorite things about the holiday season is…OUR FAMILY TRADITIONS! They are such a fun and exciting part of raising a family. Some are goofy, some have been around forever but most of them, we are just establishing now, since our family is still young and still growing. The totally awesome thing about raising your own family, is that you are in CHARGE! It seems like I have waited for this day forever and now its finally here and I most definately want to make the most of it. My husband and I together, get to create and determine how our kids childhood is going to be and traditions help make it just a little more sweeter and create lasting memories. The more exciting and magical their childhood is, the more they are going to remember and want to instill into their own kids lives one day. I know, I sure would love to see my grandkids doing some of the same things I did with my boys. Of course, not all traditions get passed down and some will change over the years but they all create that nostalgic feeling in us and bring us joy when we think of them. My oldest is 5 and he is already anticipating some of the traditions that have now been instilled into his little life and will hopefully be some of his sweetest childhood memories.
If you haven’t started incorporating traditions into your family yet, its never too late. Traditions are simply behaviors and actions that you engage in again and again-regular rituals that you perform at the same time and/or in the same way. They can be big or small, but they differ from routines and habits in that they are done with a specific purpose in mind and require thought and intentionality.
WHY TRADITIONS ARE SO IMPORTANT FOR FAMILIES
They provide a source of identity. Traditions often tell a story about a family and help teach kids where they came from. Traditions that have been past down for generations whether it’s cultural, religious or just for fun they help teach kids about their past and where they fit in now. There’s something about understanding your past and knowing you belong to something bigger than yourself that instills confidence.
It strengthens the family bond. Researchers have consistently found that families that engage in frequent traditions report stronger connection and unity than families that haven’t established rituals together. Traditions provide an all-too-rare chance for face-to-face interaction, help family members get to know and trust each other more intimately, and create a bond that comes from feeling that one is part of something unique and special.
Offers comfort and security. Family traditions and rituals are the antidote to the stressful feeling that comes from our fast-paced and ever-changing world. Kids find comfort in having a few constants in their life. It brings life back to a slower pace, where you find joy in simplicity.
Teaches Values. Through daily family prayer, the importance of faith is re-enforced and giving thanks to the ONE who provides; through nightly bedtime stories, the value of education, reading, and life-long learning is established; and through regular family dinners or activities, the centrality of familial solidarity is instilled creating lasting memories.
HOW TO CREATE FAMILY TRADITIONS
Find a purpose and then make it personal. Ask yourself these questions…”Whats the purpose of it?” “What do I hope my children and family get out of it?” “Do you want to instill a certain family value with the tradition?”
Here is a list of some great christmas traditions that you could incorporate into your own family. Remember each family is unique so find what works best for you and what is the most important for you to teach through these traditions. These may not suit your fancy but keep a open mind and hopefully some of your own traditions will develop from this list.
1. Out with the old, in with the new. To teach your kids to live just a bit more simply, to accumulate less stuff and not to hold onto what the have too tightly, require that for however many gifts they get for christmas, they have to get rid of the same number of their old toys/clothes. Throw away or donate what they discard.
2. Countdown to Christmas with books. There are a lot of fun ways to count down to Christmas with your kids, from making a paper chain to opening the door of an advent calendar. Here’s a new one we started this year… read 1 Christmas book a night all the way to christmas eve. And on the 24th (Christmas Eve) read The Night Before Christmas. This will not only teach your kids so many of the classic christmas stories but it will surely get them in the christmas spirit.
3. Read the bible Christmas morning before anything else and share exactly the history behind why we celebrate this holiday. Giving God glory first before we open gifts is a great way to show kids what your family values most.
4. Bake Christmas cookies. Some traditions can be as simple as just giving your kids some extra sugar, my kids get more excited about sweets than anything else. And Christmas cookies are just more fun because you can decorate and enjoy. This is one that was passed on from my mom and still to this day I love getting out the cookie cutter and the smell of freshly baked cookies out of the oven.
5. Do a family service act. As a family volunteer at a homeless shelter or bring toys to an orphanage, go to a hospital and visit sick patients. Anything that teaches your kids about giving during this season will leave a lasting impact forever and will instill a sense of compassion into their hearts about the world around them.
6. Decorating the tree together. It may seem small but for a child it is significant. Let them play a role in helping and participating in the festivities. And see their faces light up when they see the tree light up for the first time. Let your kids be a part of decorating in general, there is something so magical for a child to see their house transform into a christmas wonderland.
7. Drive around and go look at lights in your neighborhood. Get all bundled up, make some hot chocolate, blast christmas music in the car and role down the windows and marvel at the lights all around.
This year we started the countdown to christmas with books and my boys are loving it. Here is some of our christmas book collection.
A great book to check out that will tell you the history behind why we hang lights on a tree or bake christmas cookies, is all in this little book. Along with some great tradition ideas you could start with your own family.
We’d love to hear some more tradition ideas if you have any. Feel free to share and leave a comment for us and share your own traditions.