Stacy DeBroff, author of The Mom Book, 4,278 Tips for Moms! suggests the importance of starting your own family holiday traditions and rituals as a way to help bind the family together, adding that these traditions mark important milestones and offer comfort to your child. “Each of us has certain family traditions we hope to pass on to our children, from ways we celebrate holidays to favorite recipes, to simple everyday habits that help weave the tapestry of family togetherness,” she says.
Starting Your Own Traditions
Think about the things your family did when you were a child and ask your spouse what was important during the holidays. Are there activities you both want to continue doing with your children, or are you looking for new traditions to create? Find fun things your children will enjoy doing together as a family and start doing them. It might be as simple as taking a trip into the city to view the holiday decorations and lights, or hosting a cookie decorating party, complete with icing, sprinkles, and hot chocolate, as DeBroff suggests.
Spend time together. Family traditions are often created without even making an effort. One year, my husband put on a holiday CD while we were decorating our tree. Now, every year when we bring out the ornaments, my oldest son asks us to get out the CD so he can listen to “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” This has become one of our favorite traditions. We all sing silly holiday songs while we decorate, and I tell the kids about each of the special ornaments (including the special yellow beaded one I made in second grade that they are forever forbidden to touch).
Ask your children what they would like to do to celebrate or honor the season. When they feel their decisions are important in the family, the tradition or activity will become all the more special to everyone. Creating new traditions together will make the bond all that much stronger and the activity all the more meaningful. Whether it’s something as simple as ice skating or Christmas caroling, or a truly heartfelt tradition such as carefully selecting gifts for a family less fortunate, being together during a time of year where it’s easy to become jaded or disillusioned is what matters most.
Dr. Rob Goldblatt, PhD, clinical psychologist and author, believes establishing family traditions is essential in a child’s life, and that traditions that invoke the true meaning of the holiday versus the material aspects do wonders for both parent and child. Dr. Goldblatt, who has three young children, suggests teaching the gift of giving, creating family rituals, and talking about what good things may occur in the upcoming year as great ways to bond during the holidays.
Whatever traditions your family had while you were growing up, realize that they’re important for the then, the now, and for future generations—and it’s especially important to keep family traditions or create new ones for your own family. Whether you opt for fun, spiritual, inspiring or silly, there’s one thing you can always count on by instilling family traditions: You’ll be creating memories and powerful family moments that your children may someday pass along to their own children.