The holidays are fast approaching, and I’ve been talking to friends about different family holiday traditions that they do or used to do. I also know quite a few people who are thinking about changing or creating new traditions. There are lots of reasons to create new traditions: maybe you’re tired or bored with the things you’ve always done, maybe they’ve lost their significance over time or the person who used to love the tradition is no longer around, maybe you’ve forgotten why a tradition started or you’ve changed your thinking or beliefs about a part of the holiday and the activity that goes along with it, maybe your family has changed through death, divorce, children leaving home, a new relationship, or having a baby. Whatever the reason, it may be time for some new holiday traditions.
Most of the things you already do on the holidays were probably passed down from a previous generation of the family, and some of them may be uniquely wonderful to you or have a lot of meaning. Keep those! They are a great way to remember where you’re from, and a great way to involve others in your traditions. For example, my family always made ravioli from scratch (noodles and filling!) on Christmas Eve so it could sit all day and dry so it was ready to eat for Christmas dinner. I don’t know if anyone else ever did this, but it was our tradition, it was unique, and we loved it!
But you probably also have traditions that you do that feel lifeless and don’t make any sense. These are the things you feel obligated to do but don’t offer any pleasure. Maybe they’re things from your childhood that used to make sense, but lose meaning as the world has moved on, or maybe they’re things you never really enjoyed. Let them go. Your time and your life are way too important to hang on to them anymore. You may feel a bit of loss letting them go, but that will make some space in your life for creating new traditions.
How do you create new traditions? It’s easy! What sounds like fun to you that fits with the time of year? What do other people do that sounds interesting to you? What did you do last year on a whim that you enjoyed and might like to do again? Follow your passion and do the things that feel right to you. Get input from other family members about what they might like to do. Children often have great ideas of new things they would enjoy. Put your own twist on it and make it uniquely yours. I’m not a fan of cutting down a fresh tree, and I don’t like the artificial ones I’ve seen, so a couple of years ago, we decorated our first Christmas tumbleweed. They grow behind my house and then die and blow away. We found one stuck in a fence and brought it home and put ornaments on it (only very small and very light ones, of course), and that has become one of our traditions. Our friends know about this and look forward to it every year now.
Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks, though. It’s your holiday, you should enjoy it your way. Traditions create memories for years to come, and some of them will be carried on long into the future.