The Power of Tradition
Traditions bring families closer together. Children observe the modeling of parents as they commit to making family time important. This time together helps make new memories while also remembering the past. The traditions remind us to take time from the busyness of life and reconnect.
The stimulation of the senses – whether it’s mulled cider in the kitchen, prickly pine needles on the tree, or downtown carolers – creates powerful interactions within our nervous system and helps to solidify the experience into our memories.
Children love rituals. The security of repetition brings a sense of belonging and comfort - emotionally and spiritually. Holidays often create a sense of awe that there is something bigger than oneself – family, community, and even something greater than that depending on family views of religion and spirituality.
Traditions are a great way to pass down stories of values and customs through the generations. What does Christmas mean to you? What does the “Spirit of Giving” mean and how can you bring this more into your life? Share your personal stories. Reflect on the previous year and talk about how you have grown individually and as a family.
Reading together is one of my family’s favorite traditions. We have a book called, “Christmas Treasury,” which is a collection of stories that we read every holiday. I also like the book, “Celebrations: Festivals, carnivals, and feast days from around the world,” which we use throughout the year.
Share Yourself with Others
When I was growing up, my mother visited several folks in a nearby senior center on a weekly basis. At the holiday time, even when I was quite young, she would take me with her on her visits. That made a powerful impact on me. You can contact many of the assisted living centers in our area or Volunteer Nevada County: http://volunteernevadacounty.org/new-volunteer-opportunities/
Acts of Kindness
Let your children see you modeling the gift of being kind to others. You might pay a bill for someone at the grocery store, take donations to a local food bank, or bring a meal to an ill friend. Their involvement as they are with you during these events will make a bigger difference to them than only talking about acts of kindness and sharing.
Give the Gift of You
One of the best gifts you can give your child is the gift of your time. My father gave me a booklet at Christmas one year. In it were 12 pages with a blank line on each page. Together we came up with 12 events that we could do over the year, once a month. This included the circus, the library, the Children’s Museum, the park, and my favorite restaurant. I still remember that gift and carry on the tradition with my son.
A Favorite Tradition
Here is one of our family favorites. When my son was 3, I made a Christmas Elf out of felt with 24 pockets. I stuffed the pockets with fun trinkets, sweets, money, or notes. As he grew older, a note might give a direction: “Go to the tree and find a gift from the Christmas Elf.” I would put something under the tree from the Elf that was too big for the pockets. Another note might say, “Give out three hugs today to three different people,” or “Give someone a neck/shoulder massage.” Hint-hint.
What will you choose to do that you can repeat every year? Where do you find meaning in the holidays? Talk it over with other family members as you create life-long memories to be cherished.
Annie Keeling of Grass Valley teaches parenting classes at The Nest. Connect with Keeling at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-210-1100.