Connecting Generations Through Holiday Traditions
With all the holidays coming up in the next few months, we are excited about this final post on family history and how holidays are a perfect time to create new traditions for your posterity or to look back and either rekindle or continue traditions passed down to you. Brittney Hanks of Homegrown Traditions is sharing some of the reasons they believe so strongly in traditions and how passing on a few meaningful traditions can bless generations to come and connect you with family already gone.
Tradition: noun | tra·di·tion | trə-ˈdi-shən | the handing down of information, beliefs, or customs from one generation to another
Have you ever taken time to think about all the family traditions you participate in? Chances are, as you think on the holiday traditions you enjoy, you’ll realize that many of them came from your parents, grandparents, or even further back. It’s a neat exercise to realize that these traditions are tied to family relationships and that you are an integral part of continuing the traditions and passing them down through the generations.
My husband and I have four young kids and have lived away from family for most of our marriage. It’s hard to miss out on the many family traditions we love, but has been a unique opportunity to start some of our own and carry on the ones that were most meaningful to us growing up.
Each Christmas when I was a child, it was a highly anticipated event to go pick out our Christmas tree, because it meant we got to decorate and sleep out by the tree that night (even if it was a school night). It was such a magical start to the Christmas season and my kids love carrying on this tradition and hearing about experiences I had sleeping out by the tree when I was their age.
My husband, Justin, was about 5 years old when his grandpa Bruce passed away. One of the few memories he has of his grandpa is receiving his very own mug of Grandpa Bruce’s famous Christmas punch. It was a highly anticipated ritual that Grandpa Bruce would carefully create his delicious, frosty drink on Christmas for the family to enjoy. We inherited the recipe and love letting our kids help make the infamous Christmas punch while telling stories of their great-grandpa Bruce.
Chances are, you have similar family traditions that are tied to your parents and grandparents. Make sure to not let those traditions pass by without sharing their stories with your children.
Holiday traditions afford us a unique opportunity to incorporate service opportunities and shift the focus away from material things to the true meaning behind the holiday.
Many of my childhood Christmases were spent without much money, but with a plentiful slew of fun traditions and service projects. We’d always chose a family in our area that seemed like they could use a little extra cheer and secretly deliver the Twelve Days of Christmas gifts to them. There was excitement and energy as we worked together to ensure we didn’t get caught. On at least one occasion when we couldn’t afford to go out and buy new toys for another family, we wrapped some of our used ones and gifted them to someone we thought could use them. We never felt a lack, because we were so focused on helping others and working together.
Whether you already carry on faith-based, service traditions in your family or have the desire to start incorporating some, it’s never too late! Think of all the generations that will come after you and will be blessed by meaningful traditions that you start.
Focus on the Few
Social media is a great place to get inspiration and fun ideas. But you’ll quickly find yourself overwhelmed and feeling like a failure if you try to do it all. If you want your family traditions to be as successful as possible, decide beforehand which few traditions are most meaningful for your family, and focus on those.
“Only once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter.”
— Greg McKeown
Once you decide which traditions your family is going to participate in, let everything else go. When you limit the amount of traditions you are trying to execute, it will give you the ability to focus on the ones that mean the most to you and achieve those with greater success, clarity and joy. And that means seeing the ideas and traditions others are doing and being happy for them, but refusing to feel guilty for not doing what everyone else seems to be doing. You’ll find so much freedom and peace as you practice this principle.
Family traditions are a rare opportunity in life to link those who have gone before us and those who come after us. It both allows us to feel the strength and spirit of our ancestors and build strong, lasting bonds with our children that will influence generations to come.