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Why Family Traditions Matter

ThinkstockPhotos-491207676Let’s face it: the Christmas season can be both joyful and stressful. While it’s beautiful to see kids get excited about Christmas, to watch them excitedly open presents from Santa, and to have time together as a family, it can feel like a Herculean feat to finish your shopping, to check off your cooking list , and to squeeze in the travel time necessary to visit your family.

In the midst of all the craziness, what’s something that can help keep us focused on our faith and on family during this season? Family traditions. This phrase conjures up for some intimidatingly-elaborate thoughts of a perfectly decorated home and beautifully-built gingerbread houses, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Family traditions can be things that are very simple, but provide some structure around the unsettled feeling the busyness of life (especially during the holiday season overall) can give us.

Researcher Dr. John Gottman has studied and written about the importance of family traditions in maintaining a close family unit. He agrees with the principle of not picking something overwhelming, and doing traditions that feel approachable and unique to your family. Here are a few ideas of traditions that are both easy to accomplish and can help create positive family memories for your children during the Advent and Christmas Season:

  1. Light an Advent Wreath. This is something that could easily be done as a family on Sunday night after having dinner together, and the kids could take turns lighting it. This is quick, and an easy way to reflect on a sermon or homily you heard earlier in the day.
  2. Read the Christmas Story from Scripture during your bedtime routine on Christmas Eve. With all the excitement of Santa, this could be a good investment of time to remember what the next day is all about.
  3. Establish Christmas Tree Traditions. There are a lot of family traditions that can be applied to decorating the tree, but one idea is to use ornaments from your childhood, as well as ornaments your kids have made, and share stories about how the ornaments were made and what you remember from that time of life together. This could be a fun way for your children to learn about your childhood and also a great way to involve the children in helping you decorate!

Whatever traditions you pick, large or small, they are sure to be a way of gathering everyone together in a special way, and provide a little time of peace in what can sometimes turn into a chaotic season.

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