I do not know about you, but December has snuck up on me. It goes without saying that this year has been uniquely different in so many ways. I am reminded of the phrase I have told my children countless times this year.
Different does not mean bad.
As I anticipate the month ahead I am keeping that idea in my mind.
More than any other time of year, the month of December is filled with holiday traditions. Lighting the menorah, pouring libations, decorating a tree, and giving gifts are all part of traditions we see this month. But when is the last time you intentionally looked at your traditions? Do you mindlessly engage year after year in traditions that hold no meaning to you?
What better time than now to take a look at which traditions you celebrate and why.
Here are some helpful ways you can take a look at your holiday traditions and enjoy them more fully.
First, think about the holiday traditions you have in your family.
Often traditions have been passed down over the years. For example, in my house, my kids look forward to opening an advent calendar that reveals a chocolate each day before Christmas. I remember as a kid the excitement that came with daily chocolate during December. This is just one of the holiday traditions we all look forward to that brings joy to my house.
Make a list of the traditions your family engages in during this season.
Do not skimp on this list. There is no tradition too small. Some traditions can become habitual and we do not realize it is a tradition. Traditions can also be cultural so ask others in your family both old and young. Collaborate with those people who are important to you to help you make your list.
Be intentional. Decide the traditions that bring you joy and look at the traditions that do not.
Once you have your list, look through it. Invite others who are involved in the traditions to look with you. As you look at the list decide the traditions that are most important to you. Talk about why they are important. Listen to each other and share stories about the traditions and where they come from. What traditions are you happy to get rid of? If you hate eggnog then don’t buy it every year because that is what your family did as a kid. Make this the year you change it up and don’t buy eggnog but rather your favorite holiday beverage instead.
Bring on the new holiday traditions.
Traditions have to start somewhere. Do not be afraid to try something new. Trying something new might be adding something different than what you or your partner grew up with. Maybe it is the blending of two traditions, one from each partner. You can choose whatever you want to do. You also get to decide if it sticks or doesn’t.
Let go of the pressure of having to do the same thing each year.
Just because you did it once does not lock it in as a holiday tradition. Likewise, if you have always done it doesn’t mean you always have to do it. Can you keep doing it? Of course. Can you stop doing it this year? Yes.
This reminds me of the year my husband and I moved our 7 ft fully decorated Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. Our 3-year-old said it was tradition to have it in the other room so we moved it after she went to bed that Christmas Eve. I look back now and laugh at the trouble we took to follow what she called tradition. We could have chosen to embrace the new tree location as something different.
Traditions should be a reflection of you, your family, and your history. There is no right or wrong traditions. Don’t just blindly repeat traditions year after year. Be intentional, think through the traditions that make the holidays meaningful to you.
So, this year take a look at your traditions. Be intentional. Choose the holiday traditions that bring you joy and reflect the things most important to you and yours!
About The Author
Kelli Carter is a Clinical Mental Health Intern at Montgomery Counseling Center, in Rockville, Maryland. Kelli is a graduate student working toward her clinical mental health counseling masters degree. This training training has given her experience in a variety of evidenced based counseling practices. Kelli is currently completing Training in Level 1 Gottman’s Method.
Through counseling she explores how to build relationships with others and yourself that will help you in your daily life. She aims to help clients gain more self-awareness and give resources to be your best self and grow in healthy relationships with others. Kelli is currently accepting new clients at MCCC at a reduced-rate. Kelli is directly supervised by MCCC founder Laura Goldstein, LCMFT.