The holidays are upon us! There are so many activities and events during the holiday season it is easy to get overwhelmed with planning parties, wrapping gifts, and hanging all of the festive lights. When we really stop to think, it might even feel like stress and festive-filled calendars have unintentionally become the focus of our holiday traditions. If you are looking for ways to reduce stress this season, try talking with your family about the traditions or events that are the most important to them. What is important and meaningful to them might even surprise you!
Here are three questions to help start conversations about holiday traditions and help build meaningful traditions this holiday season.
What activities celebrate our family’s religious beliefs and culture?
Traditions that are rooted in culture and beliefs help to serve as reminders of family history and experiences. This can be particularly meaningful for kids and teens who are trying to figure out where they come from and what is important. Family members often come from different cultures, so look for ways to bring cultures together to create unique traditions to your family. This could be serving American and Chinese foods at Thanksgiving or decorating your home with Christmas trees and colorful lanterns.
What gatherings help us build closer family relationships?
Grandparents often have the best stories to tell; you can almost always count on someone getting slightly embarrassed and having a good laugh together. While these stories might be sprinkled with humor and fun they also help to connect the generations within a family and bring people closer together. Family traditions can be a great time to build memories, pass along family history, and feel closer to the people within your family. Creating space and time for these types of conversations might mean doing fewer activities and instead spending more time just sitting with each other over holiday dinners, talking while baking cookies, or enjoying a cozy fire together.
What shows the values and character of our family?
What a family focuses on highlights what is important to the people within the family. If most of the time and resources during the holidays are focused on building relationships and helping the community, this may communicate that people are valuable and important. If your family values are not lining up with your traditions or holiday activities, this is a great question to help brainstorm new activities that show the character and values of your family well.
Traditions help to shape a family; how they spend time together and how culture is passed down through the generations. When family traditions are intentional in celebrating a family’s unique beliefs, culture, values, and relationships the more meaning holiday traditions hold for the whole family.
By Jennifer Wilmoth, LMFT