The Importance of Family Traditions
Even though my childhood was not idyllic, there are many parts for which I am extremely grateful. One is the way my mother used traditions to make events special for her children. Each Christmas, she would give each of us a pair of pajamas as a gift. Many years, she spent countless hours sewing the pajamas herself. I can still remember the feeling of the soft, cozy flannel she often used. It kept me warm throughout the winter She usually added an extra ruffle or some embellishment to make the pajamas unique, something you couldn’t buy in a store. As I grew into my teen years, the Christmas pajamas were mostly store bought. Whether they were homemade or store-bought, each year I looked forward to those Christmas pajamas.
Traditions have a way of grounding us. They bring us comfort. When times feel uncertain, traditions can help to make life feel more stable, more predictable. They remind us that life goes on. The holiday season, as we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, the ultimate Provider of comfort, is a great time to share a tradition with our families.
Family traditions don’t need to be complicated. Choose one or two simple things. You don’t need to do “all the things.” It is not about how much you do but how you do it. Choose something meaningful for your family members. You may not think that a new pair of pajamas could be meaningful, but as a child growing up in a family where money was tight and new clothes were rare, it was meaningful to me. I enjoyed it so much that I have passed on the tradition, in a slightly altered form, to my own family. Each Christmas Eve, my kids open one gift, and that gift is always a pair of store-bought pajamas. As teens, they no longer get excited about this particular gift, but it is a family tradition and it helps to make our Christmas special.
As homeschoolers, we can take advantage of a flexible schedule. It is alright to set aside the curriculum and focus on seasonal family traditions. You can bake Christmas cookies and listen to carols. You can make a wreath or create cards together. Again, you don’t need to do multiple things. Spend some time thinking about what would be age appropriate and fun for your children. What sorts of activities do you find enjoyable and are feasible for you? As a busy homeschool parent, the last thing that you want is more work. Also, think about traditions that are timeless. What are some traditions that you can continue that are not age dependent or can be easily adjusted to suit your family each year?
If you already have family traditions in place, do you enjoy them? Make sure that your traditions do not become obstacles to their intended purpose. If they are a source of stress, then it is time to reevaluate these activities. Don’t let yourself feel trapped by thinking that you have to do something a certain way because it is tradition. Keep the traditions that are truly meaningful and let go of the others.
This holiday season, and throughout the year, traditions can provide an opportunity to strengthen family bonds. They reaffirm our connection with each other and bring us a sense of wellbeing. May you discover and experience some simple traditions that work well for your family, and may they always remind you of the faithfulness of Jesus.
Heidi Kinney is a freelance writer from Massachusetts. She has been homeschooling her children since 2007. She shares homeschool resources and lessons at SharedLessons.org, and inspiration for runners at WhySheRuns.com.