Whether it's making rum balls or how you decorate the Christmas tree, family traditions find their way into most people's homes at Christmas time. So what is it about traditions that make them so important to us? Why do our children look forward to them so, so much? Psychologists have studied family rituals and traditions for over 50 years and found that as we remember traditions these memories help us to recapture feelings of belonging and well-being long after xmas is over.
Why? First of all, traditions provide stability. When we do the same traditions year after year it builds trust and security for our families. Regardless of what else may happen, the traditions will not change. So much in our lives these days is temporary. Family traditions provide something for every person to hold on to and to rely upon. If your family moves around, like military families, having traditions gives familiarity in places and houses that are unfamiliar.
Although our Christmas traditions may be similar to our neighbours, we each have our own way of doing those traditions. That is what is so special. Each family’s unique twist is what gives that family its identity, we do this through the food we prepare and decorations we make.
Traditions also create a bridge between young and old and different generations, we usually have some tradition that we grew up with, be it the ‘real’ xmas tree that we find and cut or the plum pudding that grandma made. It is doing these traditions together that is also important, the whole family being part of making the pudding, putting up the tree, making christmas cards or making cookies.
Traditions are obviously good for families. We can build memories and share stories so that we become close to each other. Think you need a few traditions but not sure where to start? Try some of the following suggestions for making the holidays more meaningful and memorable.
Traditions need to include everyone
* Prepare a special meal or plum pudding, rum balls, gingerbread house.
* Get your children painting ornaments, cutting down their own little tree or preparing a simple desert these are all activities children will enjoy.
* Give to someone less fortunate. Spend time with a nursing home resident or buy gifts for a lonely neighbour. Christmas is a great time to practice generosity!
* Make a practice of doing something together. Whether it is watching football or riding around to look at holiday decorations.
* Decorate with homemade items.
Choose traditions that are fun and will relieve stress. This may seem obvious, but sometimes we get caught up in the idea that we need to provide a perfect Christmas for our families. We don’t. We need to give them homes that are happy and filled with love and joy.
Finally, choose activities that are easily reproduced year after year. What is important is not that they be elaborate, but rather that they be done again and again.