The Importance of Family Traditions

by Kate Thrall, Courier & Press, 1/13/15 —

The holiday season has been busy for many of us. You may have gone out of town to see family and friends or hosted a holiday celebration. There is something special about having loved ones near us during this time of year, and it is comforting to have family traditions we can count on.

Traditions help strengthen and bond families. In our busy lives, it can be difficult to find quality time together. Having established traditions sets aside time to be with our loved ones, and it helps bring us together face-to-face. This gives us time to know each other on a deeper level.

When it is cold outside and I can smell wood burning in the air, I am instantly taken back to my childhood in Michigan. I remember cold winter nights with snow covering the ground. We enjoyed a Christmas Eve dinner with our loved ones and awaited the wonders of Christmas morning. This is one of my favorite Christmas memories.

The holiday season may be wrapping up, but that doesn’t mean you have missed the only opportunity to carry out family traditions. Your family can take part in special events or rituals all year long.

When I was growing up, my parents did a wonderful job gathering extended family for a get-together at least once a year. For many of those years, we lived hundreds of miles away, but my parents would always pack up the car for the annual road trip.

My grandmother was usually the graceful host at her house in St. Helen, Michigan. I had the opportunity to see aunts, uncles and cousins. We had a few days to play, swim and even go to the deer park together. These are still cherished memories that I hold dear.

Here are some tips on starting a family tradition:

Starting from scratch can be difficult. Have a discussion with those who will be taking part. Once you have some ideas, try to keep it simple. It will be easier to carry out and continue if it is easy and not too stressful.

Incorporate new ideas as well as positive experiences from the past. This will make it more personal and memorable.

To alleviate stress, plan and prepare as much as possible. It is OK to ask others for help if you are feeling overwhelmed when planning something big.

Enjoy the time with your family and the tradition you have created.

After you’ve enjoyed your tradition for a few years, re-evaluate and improve things.

Simple family traditions that can be enjoyed on a weekly or monthly basis might include going for a weekly walk, eating Sunday dinner together or going to a movie once a month.

These activities do not have to be time-consuming or extravagant to be a memorable bonding experience for your family.