Now more than ever we need to become very flexible and mindful about holiday traditions. Especially since so many may be changing this year! When it comes to family traditions, consider keeping the ones you love, pitching the ones you don’t and creating the ones you’ll cherish! Don’t feel stuck doing the same old thing every year even if it doesn’t suit your family, you don’t feel safe, you don’t enjoy it, or it makes you miserable. And don’t forgo new traditions because that isn’t the way you’ve always done it. There’s room in your holidays for something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. Wait… maybe not the something blue… I might’ve gotten carried away there! But you get what I’m saying!
Just because something is a tradition doesn’t mean you have to carry it on in your own family! Whew… I just gave you permission, regardless of what your mother or mother-in-law say, to pitch an old family tradition! Oftentimes we stick to traditions that don’t really suit us or can be downright impossible just to please others. Don’t do that! Traditions are meant to be fun and fill you with joy and cheer. They aren’t meant to stress you out!
Assess Traditions Together
If you’re single you can hold onto whatever traditions you want so you can just skip this step but if you’re in a partnership you should really spend some time here!
It might be impossible for you to engage in every tradition both families have. So, it’s important for the two of you to have a heart to heart! Be considerate of each other’s most cherished traditions and be sure to make every effort to include them whenever possible. If they are particularly difficult, time consuming, or there are conflicts between traditions, be flexible and alternate years or combine the traditions into one.
From there consider all your other traditions to be optional. You may choose to keep a few until you come up with something else. Or you might toss them all. In our family some have persisted throughout the years because we enjoy them, and they work for us. You don’t have to absolutely adore a tradition to keep it going. They just need to make sense for BOTH of you!
Keep in mind this isn’t a numbers game. It’s ok if one person has more family traditions than the other or is more sentimental about them. Just remember to be flexible about both people’s needs. And, don’t be surprised if your partner loves one of your family traditions so much that they keep it off the chopping block!
Cultural and Historic Traditions
If you have family traditions that are rooted in your family’s culture or history be sure to prioritize these. It might not seem important now but when you are older, you’re likely to regret losing these ones.
There are some cultural and historic traditions that become downright impossible over time though. Sometimes you can’t find the items necessary to continue the tradition or time simply won’t allow it. In these cases, consider passing on a reminder of the tradition. Create a book including photos and a description of the tradition. Sharing the story can become the new tradition. Just be sure that the book can be copied so you can pass it on!
When You Don’t Have Old Traditions
Growing up my family had very few traditions. This is often the case when you come from a blended or divorced family (which we’ll discuss more in a minute). So, for those of you who have more traditions than you know what to do with and feel super burdened let me just share that this opposite problem is pretty sad! It’s great to be from a family that’s super flexible about the holidays but let me tell you it’s also kind of lonely and it can be a bummer.
If you don’t have any (or enough) old traditions in your family… it’s time that you start some! ALL traditions started somewhere, they might as well start with you! Making your own new or borrowed traditions can be tons of fun and very rewarding! And believe me, when you get older and haven’t established traditions you’ll be really bummed!
My mom is NOT a fan of her flexibility now. Since the traditions in my family aren’t very well established, they tend to fall by the wayside. So, don’t wait to start a new tradition! The sooner you start the more firmly it will be in place when your kids are grown!
It might seem silly to start new traditions but as I said above, all traditions started somewhere! Whether you’re very active with old traditions or don’t have many or any, there is always room for something new! I’m a firm believer that every family should have a tradition they started. Something special and unique to them! I so deeply believe this that my family has at least 10 for various holidays that are specific to us. We even have traditions for birthdays, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day that are unique!
How to Come Up with Something New
The easiest places to find new holiday traditions are the internet and movies (particularly Hallmark movies). There are tons of ideas to inspire you to come up with new traditions. And you can always put a spin on a tradition you find there or combine it with one you already have! Think about the values you want to teach around the holidays and consider incorporating traditions that highlight these. Let movies, pins and social media inspire you but be sure to do it your way!
The new traditions I cherish the most are the ones my kids have contributed. It doesn’t matter how young they are, kids can have a profound impact on your family traditions. Encourage them to put their own twist on existing traditions and to come up with new ones. Some will stick and some won’t, but it will be fun! And allowing the kids to come up with traditions is a tradition itself!
The importance of New Traditions
In most situations new traditions aren’t imperative but there are a few where they can be vitally important. Strongly consider creating a new tradition if you are getting divorced, blending your family or someone in your immediate family has passed away.
When going through a divorce it is vitally important to keep all the traditions you previously had going strong. For at least the first year keeping the same traditions can give some much-needed stability, comfort and happiness to the entire family. So, even if you hated that tradition that came from your mother in law, this isn’t the time to change it. It is however the time to add something new and special that celebrates your family and highlights the connections you share. This is a great time to put the ball in the kids’ court to come up with something that’s 100% fun!
When you’re blending your family it’s very important to honor the traditions that both families have had prior. If you want to change them, you’ll have to do it gradually over time and not for a couple years. Don’t be surprised if you try to eliminate a tradition no one seems to care for only to discover it’s suddenly your kids can’t live without favorite! Be understanding of this. Divorce and blending families if particularly hard on children of any age.
Creating a new tradition that includes everyone in your new family can go a long way to uniting all of you. You can task the kids to come up with something or plan something yourself but the best new traditions for blended families are those that develop organically or that are a natural combination of traditions that existed prior.
When someone close to you dies it’s very important to try to continue to do the things you’ve always enjoyed as a family. It might be necessary to cut back in some ways depending on how everyone is feeling. Skipping the traditions all together isn’t a good idea!
Consider adding new tradition in memory of the person you lost. This can be very healing. Whether you create a special ornament, leave a grave blanket, sing their favorite song or simply spend some time telling stories about them it’ll help you feel connected. And that will go a long way to helping you move forward.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with borrowing someone else’s holiday traditions! I have several traditions that I’ve picked up from friends throughout the years! This can be a particularly great way to start new traditions if your family didn’t have many growing up. So, keep an eye out and look for traditions you might want to add in. Just keep a good sense of humor about it. It might look like a ton of fun for them but not be a great fit for you! There’s nothing wrong with trying something out and letting it go.
Keep in mind that throughout the years and phases of your life traditions will change and adapt. Be flexible and allow this as your family grows! And when you’re starting new traditions to begin with consider how and if they will withstand the test of time. It’s perfectly fine and absolutely awesome to have traditions that you only intend to hold to for a particular life season. Just consider how you might want to phase this tradition in and out!
Holiday Tradition Importance
The most important thing about holiday traditions is that they enhance your holidays. You want them to add to the spirit of the holidays. Reflect your family’s values. And be something you look forward to year after year. If they are a burden or stressful consider reevaluating! You don’t have to do what’s always been done! There’s no requirement that you include every (or any) traditions you grew up with! So, choose the old traditions you want to hold on to, create the new ones you’ll look forward to year after year and borrow the ones that inspire you!
What are your favorite holiday traditions? Please share this with your family and friends… inspire them to fill their holidays with traditions that bring them joy!
Get your FREE Holiday Happiness Workbook today to help you sort through and create new traditions! And don’t forget to catch me live every Thursday at noon EST in my Facebook group where I’ll be sharing all things holiday happiness through all of Nov & Dec!