Tradition-ing! Choose What Really Matters This Holiday Season. 

As the Halloween decorations come down and clocks are turned back, the shorter days signal the coming of colder weather…and the holiday season. The holidays can be an exciting time with parties and decorations, but also a stressful time as families get swept up into the increasingly important focus of having a “perfect” gathering or getting just the “right” gift. The pressure of the season can be overwhelming and the bright sheen of holiday traditions can soon give way to heavy obligations and frustration. 

If you and your family have been bowing under the weight of the season, it may be time to complete a thorough review and audit of your values and traditions. This could be the year that has you begin and end the season energized and refreshed because your activities and traditions reflect you and your family through and through. 

To start, grab a piece of paper and prepare three columns. In the left column, write down all of the values that come to mind when you think about your family (include nuclear and extended family associations), children, parenting, and whatever comes to mind when you think about values and the holidays. 

In the middle column, write down all of the traditions that your family currently practices. Review the two columns and consider whether your values match with the traditions that you practice. Even if a tradition doesn’t match, but you like the feeling the tradition brings you, feel free to keep it, but also consider whether to add new traditions that might better reflect your family’s core values. 

Finally, in the last column, write down the traditions that you would like to keep and add. 

If you are struggling for inspiration when it comes to adding new traditions, ask your friends, interview older family members for stories on traditions that their households took part in, browse websites, such as Pinterest for ideas, or check out some of the innovative ideas in The Book of New Family Traditions or Creating Holiday Magic. Don’t put too much on your plate! Remember, the objective of this exercise is to simplify your traditions and bring them more in line with your core family values. 

Don’t be afraid to revisit and revise your list after the holidays are over and again each year. And be sure to get all your other parenting wishes too. Happy tradition-ing! 

By Laura C. Kauffman, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist