Family Christmas Traditions

Our Family’s Christmas Tradition

The lottery of memories is as questionable as the other type of lotteries. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time trying to understand why do we remember certain things and others not. When we look back at our past, a vast majority of us can pinpoint towards significant life events, both filled with joy, but also towards the ones filled with sorrow.
We sometimes get a glimpse into what an ordinary day was like, but that is very likely seldom.

The picture we created about who we are and how we got there is linked to the story we tell ourselves about ourselves, with facts we gathered from the memories of our past.

After reading Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind last year, I understood a lot more about how we are wired to live, think, feel and thrive. But my biggest take away has been that our rational mind’s main purpose is to keep us alive. If you strip a human of its soul, the only reason for its existence seems to be survival and perpetuation of the species. We are more than a walking brain, and so the question of our purpose becomes murkier.

What seems to be a constant in our lives, for thousands of years, is the presence of rituals, traditions and transitions.

We made these up, based on stories we held to be true, be it spiritual, religious or cultural. And these are important, as we seem to need them to establish our belonging and identity.

As parents, we are now in the position to either continue the traditions we experienced in our family of origin or completely recreate them. Either way, it is, I believe, critical to consider making conscious choices about these, as they transmit values our children will carry with them for the rest of their lives.

Christmas is a beautiful time to start thinking about traditions, and I will walk you through my thinking process around planning for these. I also want to mention that our situation is slightly different, as we live far away from our families and so we are not in the position to always spend the holidays in one of their homes. So for our children, we had to start from scratch and create the traditions we want them to remember.

Food

As this appeals to so many of our sense, the unique food we have available for specific holidays is a sure trigger down memory lane. I remember our Christmas and New Year feast, the many appetizers, main dishes, soups, and deserts.
If this is your first time considering traditions, make a list of “special foods” that you could prepare for a special dinner or lunch.
Enroll the kids and your partner in helping in the kitchen. Food preparation is very ritualistic.
Start with Christmas preparation and then consider the New Year or Birthdays ones.

Music

I have tunes that followed me around for years. Have some Christmas carols that you could play on repeat without driving yourself crazy.
Here is my Christmas playlist you can download.

Surroundings

Will you have a tree? When will you put it up? Who will help you decorate it? What are the other decorations that go up? Is there a story around them? Bring something unique for each one of the kids and each one of the family members. We have a small personalized decoration that goes into the tree, and my kids love to see that their decoration is part of the big tree decor.

Story

I believe story-telling to be the centerpiece of our lives. And I also think that for small children, stories are crucial elements of making sense of what surrounds them. This is a magical time and what you choose to communicate to your children is very likely what they will relate further. This is a huge responsibility and I don’t take mine lightly.

Sharing

Everything starts in the family cell. This is the small group where children are nurtured, cared for and where they belong. At a larger scale, we all belong to each other, and if we’re ok, we should help others be ok too.
I’ve learned a couple of things about giving and generosity these past years, but the most significant piece is: you don’t have to change the entire world to make a difference. $1 donations, writing a support letter to a family who needs encouragement, collecting toys you no longer need for gifts at orphanages, public schools in neighborhoods that need support or other organizations, preparing a dry food basket for a family you know, preparing a dish for a friend, just GIVING. It doesn’t matter how big or small, giving is a soul opener towards gratitude, joy, and hope. And that’s precisely what traditions are about.

I know that starting a family is difficult enough. There are so many things we must be mindful of. But creating a family tradition that belongs to you will offer your children cherished memories and endless joy.

Would you like to make this easier by using a checklist? I’ve made you the perfect one!

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