Let’s talk about traditions.
While I’m sure this varies some according to personality type (I have a friend who finds traditions too limiting and stressful), for me traditions are the building blocks of a life of celebration.
As I’ve stressed already in this month’s content, I’m not talking about elaborate traditions but rather the simple things that become part of your family’s culture and history and take on a special meaning of their own.
A one-time event can be special and exciting, and some things deserve that distinction, like a graduation or wedding. But a tradition has the power to elevate the every day things from mundane to sacred. They remind us to approach the regular moments with gratitude, joy and celebration.
For example, I love this Saturday morning breakfast tradition with party plates and napkins. Arguably, using disposables actually makes a special breakfast easier to pull off than using regular dishes, and yet it also sets it aside as a time of week worth celebrating.
To choose traditions that enhance your life rather than lead to more stress, there are a few things to keep in mind:
Traditions aren’t about other people.
To clarify, they probably are about the people you’re celebrating with, but they aren’t about what other people are doing or what they expect you to be doing.
It’s okay to choose your own traditions, whether that’s a special birthday breakfast or a silly song to start each new week, sleeping under the Christmas tree each year or reading the comics together on Sunday mornings.
And it’s okay to forgo the traditions that others embrace, whether that’s a special birthday breakfast or a silly song to start each new week, sleeping under the Christmas tree each year or reading the comics together on Sunday mornings.
Traditions don’t have to be elaborate.
I said this already, but it’s worth saying again because I understand the temptation to overdo things a little too well. If a little is good, a lot is better, right?!
In reality, trying to go big every time can leave us exhausted and stressed, which defeats the whole purpose. Instead of shooting for the stars with your traditions, save the elaborate for the big one-time events and choose simple traditions that you can actually pull off without losing your joy and gratitude in the process.
Traditions should evolve naturally.
If there is one thing I could tell myself as a young wife and mother, it would be to just relax and let our family culture develop at its own pace. I didn’t realize then that traditions have a way of growing on their own: you do something one year, and it’s so fun or meaningful or special that you repeat it the next and then the next…and a tradition is born.
Yes, it’s okay to intentionally choose an activity that you think could be a good tradition, but don’t feel like you need to force it or plan out the next 20 years of tradition all at once.
It’s okay to skip a tradition as needed.
I love traditions, probably more than the average bear, but I’m also really good at saying, “This just isn’t going to work this year.” Skipping a tradition is better than forcing it and leaving everybody with bad memories, and I know that the best traditions will last through being skipped a time or two.
ACTIVITIES & QUESTIONS
1. Do you enjoy traditions? Make a list of your favorite traditions, both from your own childhood and current traditions.
2. Are you tempted to go overboard and create overly elaborate traditions? Has creating an elaborate tradition ever backfired on you when it comes time to do it again?
3. Do you struggle with other people’s expectations or trying to keep up with other people’s traditions?