This is a time of year when traditions garner added attention. This is a good thing. Traditions provide grounding, create memories, and take on an emotional meaning that adds joy to life. Since Michelle and I got married we have had to work through the traditions we grew up with and the traditions we wanted to create for our family. As you consider the traditions you will continue or make this year, here are five things to consider that will add meaning to them.
Create traditions that fit your values.
What are the things you care most about in life? Maybe you think serving other people is essential, or having time to rest, or being adventurous. Take some time and try to narrow down your highest values to your top five. Then, spend some time considering if your current traditions reflect those values. If not, it doesn’t mean you need to drop your traditions, but maybe you could create a couple new ones that fit what you care about.
Preserve family traditions.
There is something powerful about knowing you are doing the same things your parents and grandparents did. If the traditions go back further than that even better! This one can be especially powerful for kids. When we talk about the history of a tradition it gives us a sense of history and connection to those who came before us. Maybe it can remind us that life is bigger than “me”.
Involve others in your traditions (and participate in theirs).
A sure way to add richness to life is to develop meaningful relationships with other people. Imagine how it would impact your neighborhood over the course of years if you started a neighborhood Christmas party. What strength would it add to your existing friendships if you lived out some traditions together over the next twenty years? As you create new traditions consider ways you could do this that will consistently draw others into life with you.
Pick traditions that can be consistent.
An important part of the power of tradition is that it is done over and over, every year (or month or whatever). As you form or keep traditions, think about how you can be consistent with them. For instance, if you travel to the grandparents every other year it might be difficult to have a tradition of going to a Christmas Eve service, but you could create your own time of remembering the story of Jesus’ birth together and invite people to join you in it–whether it’s at your house or grandma’s.
Get creative and have fun!
Especially as you create new traditions, don’t be afraid to think outside the box. What is something unique, creative, and fun you could do that would put a stamp on your family and community? This year we’re beginning the tradition of having a big gingerbread house making party. We’re inviting all our friends for a big messy icing and candy throw down.
In this great season of thanks and celebration of hope, make and keep some great traditions!