When I was a kid, we moved around quite a bit, and change was kind of one of the only norms. My parents weren’t always so intentional about creating and keeping traditions. With the exception of a few things we could count on being consistent, like church each week, back-to-school shopping each August, and Christmas and Thanksgiving with our extended families.
Now that I have kids of my own, I’m feeling the pressure of starting new traditions of our own.
Somehow I’m worried I’ll mess it up. How is it possible, though, to mess up something so personal, something we are creating from scratch, something that will only matter to us? It seems like a big task that will shape my children’s futures. These decisions will shape my kids’ core memories. These decisions will form my kids’ ideas of the holidays and impact their future children. Ok, classic over-the-top, over-thinker pressure here, right?
So let’s take it down a notch and not give holiday traditions more weight than they deserve, and let’s create a plan for starting our new traditions for my young family.
1. Keep it simple: I want to create traditions that are easy to incorporate from year to year, like a simple Christmas breakfast we can all enjoy before busting into our presents. Think through things you’re already doing and how you can make them special.
2. Keep them authentic: My husband loves to sing, and we bought a piano (that someday someone will be able to play), so last year, on Christmas morning, we sat together with our young son and sang Christmas songs. I want this to continue and be something our boys look forward to. What things do you naturally enjoy that you could incorporate into the holiday season?
3. Make them memorable: Maybe this is a given, but I want my boys to smile when they think about the holidays, not because of the presents they will get at Christmas, but because they enjoy spending time with our family. I want them to look back and laugh at the embarrassing moments we created. What are some ways you can create easy-to-remember traditions?
4. Make it about people: Probably my favorite one on the list. I want all our traditions to help our kids feel loved and show love. I want them to look back on their growing-up years and say, “My parents did a great job showing us love.” I want my kids to grow up learning about giving, not just receiving, so each year, we will work together as a family to give to those we love and even to those we don’t know. Think through ways your family can give back to each other and beyond.