Have you heard this one? During a discussion of holiday traditions, the teenager complains, “We don’t have any traditions. We just do the same old things every year!” While we smile at the kid’s perception, we recognize the value of giving the family a sense of continuity that ties them together through the years.
I am reminded of a holiday a couple of years ago. The host of the family gathering that year was dropping hints that they planned a surprise “non-traditional” dinner, and the person most distraught about the prospect was a 17 year old boy! Just when you feel as though a child wants nothing to do with the “old-fashioned ways” it becomes apparent that it actually matters to them – a lot!
Traditions don’t have to be fancy or expensive. In fact, it is often best if they are not so they won’t be difficult to carry on. When the children grow up and establish their own homes, it’s heart-warming to see them continue with a simple tradition that ties the generations together. It can be anything: attending a Christmas Eve service together, reading a special story, serving a traditional food, watching a favorite classic movie, driving around to see the lights, playing a game or watching a sports event. As a young family begins life together, a blend of their individual family traditions can create something that is both old and new – uniquely theirs while connecting them to their roots.
Does this mean you shouldn’t try something new this year? Of course not! But if the family has a favorite “same old thing” they like to do every year, I would encourage you to keep it going as part of your celebration. Tradition is one strand of strong family ties.
As the 17 year old grows into manhood, I expect he will recover from the unexpected turn of events that fateful year and learn to accept that holidays can be fun without a specific menu, but he will likely never forget how much he prefers celebrating with the same old traditions!
What does your family look forward to every year during the holidays? Have you experienced a “clash” of traditions in your marriage, and how are you addressing it? Do you think traditions are essential or overrated? We want to hear from you!
Wishing you a blessed and happy Christmas and holiday season!
Live, Work & Relate Well!
Dr. Linaman is a psychologist and executive coach providing counseling and professional development services to individuals, couples, work teams and organizations.