The holiday season is full of traditions for many families. As we approach Thanksgiving this week and then officially enter the Christmas season on Friday, I’ve been thinking a lot this weekend about what I want to do with the girls to help them celebrate the holidays. Then I got to wondering why I feel so motivated to start and follow through with our family traditions. Here’s what I think 🙂
Family traditions work on two levels: the family level and the individual level. By doing the same activity every year, or even every week, as a family, we build strong family bonds. We come together as a group with our own unique identity. “We are a family that eats dinner together every night.” “We start the Christmas season by cutting down our own Christmas tree.” Whatever the tradition is, each member of the family can depend on it. This leads to how traditions work on an individual level, too.
Each person in the family knows the pattern and their part of the tradition. They develop a sense of self-identity as well as group-identity by participating in family traditions. One child may know, “I set the table for dinner and that’s important for the whole family to be able to eat.” Another may say, “I sweep the floor after dinner because no one else wants to.”
This is especially true for our precious little ones who are eagerly trying to figure out who they are and how they fit inside the family dynamics. They value who they are and their place in the family when they know they have a special part in what the family does. Little ones from about one on up are learning about cause and effect relationships. Traditions, especially weekly or daily ones, strengthen this learning process.
Some of our family traditions include reading stories and singing songs at bedtime, eating dinner together daily, attending church together every Sunday, volunteering at the library, doing craft projects and making cookies together. Many of our traditions can easily take on a holiday theme to reinforce the purpose of the holiday and the many ways we celebrate. We have started singing Christmas carols with the girls at bedtime. It’s fun to see them listen intently to a new song, learning the melody and words so they can join in, too. I’m also looking forward to making Christmas themed cookies with the girls to share with our neighbors and friends.