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Your Gift This Holiday Season:

Family Traditions

The holiday season is upon us and that often brings about feelings of nostalgia. Why? Because we all have enjoyed family traditions over the years and wish to pass them on to our children and grandchildren.

The Importance of Tradition

Have you ever wondered why people love holiday television ads that hearken back to years when teams of horses pulled carriages across snow-covered fields to Grandma’s house? It’s not that we ever really did that, but the fact that it used to happen and it sure would have been fun. It would have been a happy family tradition.

We love traditions for a number of reasons:

Traditions provide family identity. Maybe your family always drives to the mountains to cut a Christmas tree. Or maybe you always eat clam chowder on Christmas Eve. Maybe your children play the dreidel game and you eat potato latkes. Such activities provide a strong sense of family identity.

Traditions strengthen family bonds. Children love to help bake and decorate cookies. They love putting decorations on the Christmas tree. They look forward to the family gatherings that will occur over the holidays. Doing these activities builds the connections between family members.

Traditions offer a sense of security and belonging. “This is what we do.” Traditional activities connect the generations and stories of “how it used to be” are always welcome. Children will enjoy the feeling of belonging to this particular group of people called family.

Traditions offer a time to teach family values. Do you help feed the homeless or give toys for foster children? Does your family make it a priority to send gifts to the poor in other countries? Do you look for a way to bless others in a time of celebration and plenty? Your children will notice and make that a personal value in the future.

Traditions make wonderful memories. Perhaps the most important thing we can do as families is create warm, positive memories of times together. Families aren’t perfect, but at holiday gatherings they can come close—they can share fun, festive times together to remember for many years to come.

What are your holiday traditions?

Maybe it’s time to reinforce traditions that have gone by the wayside or create some new ones. A new tradition can be set in just a year or two in the lives of young children. Here are some ideas for fun activities that can become your family traditions:

Plan a time dedicated to the Christmas tree. Whether you cut your own or go to buy one, the act of buying, setting up, decorating and then enjoying the magical ambience of the beauty is a memorable tradition. Maybe you want to have a separate, tiny tree especially for the children to decorate.

Baking goodies together is memory-making. Is there a recipe you make every year? Are there treats you make to give to friends and neighbors? Do you use some of the baked items as decorations around the house?

Music. Everyone has their favorite Christmas songs. Or maybe your family always goes caroling or to a certain Christmas concert. Music lifts the spirits and calms the most troubled heart.

Cards and letters. This tradition is becoming old fashioned for many reasons. But a hand-written message of love and joy at the holidays is always welcome, especially to your elderly family members.

Gifts. We do tend to overspend during the holidays. Remember a gift is meant to please the recipient in a special way because it’s chosen with love. Simple gifts can be the most important ones.

Movies. There is a wonderful assortment of family Christmas movies to enjoy together.

Sports events. Many families enjoy their loyalty to one sports team or another. While these traditions are not only for the holidays, they can be fun and exciting for younger family members as well as the oldsters.

Traditions of faith. The holiday season is a time where we’re looking for our roots. What does your family believe and how do you incorporate that into family times together? Sharing faith with the extended family can be a precious time filled with good memories.

We all long for a sense of purpose. Who are we and what do we hold dear? Holidays are times to go beyond the ordinary—times to leave the day to day rhythm of work and chores. Holidays fill our need to celebrate and family traditions will enrich your family’s lives for generations to come.

Feel free to send us some of your precious Christmas traditions and memories.

Happy Christmas!