Happy Holidays Reader🎄
Today's story takes 3 minutes to read.
Look Back: When fear has taken hold in your home, what do you do?
It's the most wonderful time of the year 🎶 🎅🏽 or so the song says.
The anticipation makes the highs feel higher ... but the lows can feel lower. Much much lower.
The holidays are an amplifier.
The "most wonderful time of the year" takes the peaks and valleys and places them front and center.
In the middle of all the activity are family traditions. The long-established or inherited customs given from one generation to the next.
A real tree or is artificial fine?
Family only or be community inclusive?
Gift extravaganza or a few simple presents?
Family vacation or stay planted at home base?
Fancy meal with good china or matching pajamas all day?
No matter how you navigate the holidays, there are always traditions. But maneuvering through them with a family of your own is difficult.
A current favorite family resource of mine at Parent Cue shared the following about traditions...
A good tradition is like a speed bump: It slows you down and reminds you of years gone by. It pauses you and quiets the moment. A tradition doesn’t have to be massive, but it does have to be something you make your own.
4 reasons why traditions are so important
- They make kids feel safe.
No matter what's going on around them, traditions can ground a kid (and you!) in ways other things can't.
- They give kids a sense of belonging.
The social pressure a kid feels on a daily basis can feel crushing. Traditions with family communicate to your kids that no matter what's going on in their peer groups, they have a place at home.
- They give kids something to look forward to.
The power of anticipation knows no age limit - fun is something we can all agree on. Adjust your traditions slightly so they are age appropriate in every phase. Ask your kid or teen what would make your previous traditions more enjoyable for them.
- They let kids practice taking ownership
When a kid actively participates in making special memories, their buy-in deepens their connection to a family even more.
But Here's Where It Went Wrong
What I thought would make holiday traditions meaningful over the years:
- Keeping the majority of what my legacy family had done intact.
- Only affirming success if everyone was 100% happy.
- The more complex or involved the better because that meant we'd done something big.
- Rarely letting go of what was done years ago out of fear of breaking custom.
What actually puts the magic the holiday traditions:
- Not comparing ours to other families for validation.
- Allowing for a significant number of imperfect moments.
- Showing up with a positive attitude no matter if the idea is bad or not.
- Communicating with your individual family if a specific custom holds deep meaning (*spoiler - you get 1 of these as a parent at best.)
- Trying new things every couple of years because a delightful surprise is life-giving.
- Honoring some of your legacy family traditions but identifying a couple that are uniquely yours alone.
I'm plagued with high holiday expectations because of how much I want our traditions to work. Last year I finally matured... I think.
On Christmas Eve 2021 after tensions were super high, I scrolled through my calendar to December 23, 2022.
I made an appointment at Noon that day with myself. I wrote...
"Don't get into family fight again."
Sometimes you just need to give yourself a good talking to and recenter.
Do you have a favorite family holiday tradition? Searching for the right tree together? Eating a specific meal on Christmas Eve? I'd love to hear yours because great family moments are my secret addiction.