When I think back to my childhood Christmas’ and those well into my teen years, I do not remember if Santa brought equal amount of gifts to my brothers and I. or how many presents were under the tree. What I remember are the rituals and traditions that my parents created with us around the holidays. Some traditions changed along the way like the Christmas Eve family skate at Toronto’s City Hall that transformed into years of family poker followed by watching White Christmas. Others rituals stayed the same such as reading the child version of the Christmas Story, opening one gift on Christmas Eve and stockings left at the end of our bed. It turns out this was my mom’s brilliant idea to provide my parents with extra sleep in the morning while we joyfully opened our stockings in our room.
The benefits of family traditions and rituals are plentiful and there are many resources and books out there that can detail the benefits. They range from strengthening the family bond, providing identity, comfort and security in children to a way to teach values as well as adding to the rhythm and seasonality of life.
Now that I have my own family I want to make sure that my boys grow up with traditions surrounding Christmas too. So I have consciously picked the ones I liked from my family, adopted some from my husband’s family and we have created new traditions too. In the hustle and bustle leading up to the holidays I encourage you to take a minute and think about the ways you can start to develop traditions in your family and focus on the spirit of togetherness you share with friends and loved ones. You will probably realize that you have many traditions already. Remember that traditions can be big or small and they may transform through the years. Here is a short list of ideas to get you started. The options are endless.
- Make decorating the house for the holidays a tradition by using the same decorations every year and playing the same music.
- Pick a family friendly activity that you do yearly such as going to the movies bowling, playing board games, volunteering at a food bank during the holidays.
- If you celebrate Christmas, you can give your children a special ornament each year. Then once they move out they will have a bag full of ornaments to put on their tree.
- Have a special food or desserts that come out during the holidays. Growing up we always had Laura Secord chocolates, After Eight Mints and Turtles.
- Go for a special drive to see the check out the holiday lights in your neighbourhood.
- Spend time with your children baking yummy holiday treats.
KIDU staff invite you to develop your own traditions this season and give your family the gift of love, security and comfort for years to come. Check out our gratitude bucket. Our gift of tradition to you this season.