Holiday Traditions – Are They Worth It? 

Sometimes, too much of a good thing is, well, too much. As December rolls along, it often begins to seem like time is running out, we get stressed, and those wonderful traditions we’ve loved, start to feel like they are turning into a part-time job.

And then there’s the pressure to be like the other families. You know, the ones who seem to be able to do it all and do it with a smile. I find myself thinking,

You made cookies, again?

      • Wow, you make your gingerbread house from scratch—and it’s three stories high!

        • Your children make special cards for each grandparent, aunt, uncle and cousin?

          • And the matching outfits?

REALLY? I need more eggnog.

Needless to say, it can be hard to do it all and enjoy every moment of it too. That’s why, this year, I suggest something different. Instead of trying to do every tradition you can think of, pick one or two that you can do year after year. Find a tradition that isn’t too time-consuming, expensive or difficult to pull off but that is meaningful—one that your kids will remember and love as much as you do.

Hint: if the tradition involves you spending time as a family, it’s a good start.

If it involves you buying more, wrapping more, or spending time on your own feeling stressed or burdened, it’s time to re-examine why you feel it’s a valuable tradition.  And yes, this might mean the holiday card doesn’t make the cut this year…  (go ahead – it’s ok to do a victory dance:)

For example, when my kids were small, our family tradition each year was to go over to the rural property we owned in a neighboring state to get our Christmas tree. We’d take the whole day to do this, together as a family. We’d eat lunch on the road, cut down the tree and then stop for hot chocolate on the way home. The kids would look forward to the trip all year, and it was as meaningful for the kids as it was for the adults.

So, revisit the to-do list and see if you can prioritize the top one or two things and let go of the rest. Not only does this focus your attention on what’s attainable, but it sets an example to your kids that you’re going to choose a healthy mom over a frick’n fairy tale holiday. Find a tradition that your family enjoys, and make the most of it. Once you have accomplished your personal traditional event, everything else you do can feel like icing on the cake (or cookie).

I’d love to hear your favorite holiday traditions. Post some ideas below that might be inspiration for others seeking to simplify.

4 thoughts on “ Holiday Traditions – Are They Worth It? 

  1. We created an tradition of finding and keeping the last Light alive during the longest night of the year. We spend some time writing about our hopes and dreams for the upcoming year, and people, events and ideas that give us Light in the Darkness. We then fold, roll or stuff them into pockets, and take off for a local high point from which to view the sunset. At the top of the hill we share our thoughts, and watch the sun set as we light a candle decorated for Solstice (beeswax designs pressed on, or sticks stuck in, whatever is on hand!). We put the candle in a jar and carry it home, to burn throughout the evening and into the next morning, keeping the Light alive. It gets us away from all the other clamoring and is active, reflective and fun (the walk can take as long or as little time as you want!) The perceived danger of walking or driving with a lit candle is extra fun

    1. OH, Christa, this is beautiful. I can just imagine you all walking by candlelight. Thank you so much for sharing. I hope other parents will take a page out of this simple, yet powerful tradition. Happy Holidays my friend.

  2. During December, I love making cards and wrapping paper with easy foam stamping. Some years Im just getting it done because thats what I do each year, not very satisfying and adds more annoyance and stress to the season. But its a ritual that I do each year and sometimes the family is up for it and sometimes not, same with me. But I bring it out each year because most of the time its meditative and grounds me in the season. Its slows me down to just focus on the materials and connect to myself and within the family. Rituals and traditions once established are always there for you when you really need them. I accept the years that Im just stamping away tp get it done because mostly it serves.

    1. This is so interesting. The fact that you know that the tradition can bring you both joy and frustration and yet you stick with it. There is something to be said for that. One year I decided to make all the presents using puff paints and other crafty stuff. I loved it, but my house was a MESS for weeks and I decided that if I was going to do it again, I would do it in June when there was more daylight and I could be outside for part of the time. As it turns out, that is what I did for a few years and the kids found it interesting and fun to help out without feeling any pressure if they were busy. It’s all about the balance and respecting that other people might not be as enthusiastic about traditions as we are. Thanks for sharing Betsy. Have a lovely holiday.

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