During the holiday season, we often hear phrases such as, “We always do that at Christmas” or “For as long as I can remember, we have done that every year.” Those phrases are referring to family traditions—the cherished routines we create for the sole purpose of family fellowship. Family traditions are extremely important because they give children a chance to be part of a story—their family’s story. Being part of a family story gives a sense of identity, security, and purpose, which are all foundational elements in a child’s life.
You might have a long list of family traditions, or maybe you don’t have any. This time of year is a great time to begin new traditions or resurrect forgotten rituals, as it’s a season that centers on family togetherness.
An important tradition I feel that all families should establish in some way is shared mealtime. Too often, I hear of families who rarely eat together, opting instead to shape their separate mealtimes around individual schedules. Our lives are so often a chaotic disarray of work deadlines, sports schedules, church events, and house projects that we forget about the importance of a structured family meal. I encourage you to make this a priority. Ask questions, tell stories, and commune together during this small break in the day. In our often non-stop pace of living, our family must be the institution that grounds us and pours into us. My entire family has Sunday dinners together a few times a month, and it is a great privilege to watch grandchildren interacting with their grandparents, routinely breaking bread together in a memorable way.
Vacationing with family is another wonderful tradition you could incorporate into your family life. It doesn’t need to be fancy, extensive, or expensive. My son’s favorite place on earth (and he’s a seasoned traveler!) is a location we go to as a family, with rustic cabins, no heat, and no air conditioning. It’s not the physical surroundings that are important; it’s the people that make up those memories and leave a lasting impression. Rent a cabin, set up a tent, make a reservation, and build family traditions while leaving behind the distractions of our everyday commitments.
The holiday season is an important time to consider ways to serve those less fortunate than us, and this could become an impactful tradition for families to incorporate on a yearly basis. It is vital for parents to portray the joy that comes when we give to those in need—what better way than giving together as a family? Through giving, you can show your children the satisfaction that comes through selfless love and goodwill, whether this is through acts of service or financially supporting another family in need. There are many ways to give throughout the year. One example of an easy way to give to several different needs including clean water, food for a family, a goat or chicken to help sustain a family, or education for a child is through Bethany’s gift catalog.
This holiday season, it is my hope and prayer that you work toward establishing family traditions, adding memories and laughter to the unique story that each family is weaving together.