Like Everything Else Family Traditions Evolve with Time
Annual family traditions usually give us that warm fuzzy feeling and provide lasting memories we take through our entire lives. When asked to think back to childhood, it’s not hard for most to conjure up thoughts and even talk about smells from grandma or grandpa’s house or even a loving aunt or uncle who was always there to make holidays special. What happens when your family doesn’t have those traditions or a change in family status threatens to unearth what you knew to be the good old days? For those hard pressed to try and re-create the past for themselves or their children, there’s really no need to. New traditions are created all the time and no matter what your family structure be it a party of one or many, you can make the traditions special just the way you’d like them to be.
Here are a few things to consider when creating traditions:
- Reflect on your family traditions and define them as they are. The first step to keeping them alive is to find them.
- Each family has a unique set of traditions. What were the traditions you noticed as you grew up? What were the traditions you heard your grandparents and parents discuss? How did you handle holidays, special occasions, and other events?
- Traditions can come in many forms and vary greatly from family to family. They can include favorite meals, different ways to celebrate the holidays, special gifts for unusual events, or vacations to the same spot.
- Document your family traditions. To help keep the traditions going, you can make a written record that can be passed down from generation to generation.
- Family traditions can fade and change over time. They can be completely forgotten after the death of a loved one or even because of divorce. They can also be replaced with new ideas that matter to the family.
- You may want to gather the thoughts and memories of grandparents, parents, cousins, and others to fill out the list.
- Use Photos and Video as part of your tradition memory documenting process. Your list doesn’t have to be limited to words. Photos and videos add a visual element that helps keep the traditions alive. They can help family members understand important events that contribute to the traditions.
- The media can be a growing project with new additions each year. You can ask other family members to share their photos and videos that add interest and memories to your traditions.
- Be open to change. It’s important to keep traditions flexible enough to work with your lifestyle. It’s fine to change traditions over time to make them realistic and inclusive.
- You may admire your grandparent’s tradition of cooking an six course meal from scratch every Thanksgiving without help but that doesn’t have to be YOUR tradition. Traditions should enhance the family’s experience. Don’t feel guilty about letting others help.
- Think about creating new traditions. Saving old traditions is only one part of the process. You can build new ones, too, as your family grows and changes. With so many single parent families, same gender families, transgender families, gender fluid families, interracial families and more, the old traditions don’t always fit what means the most to us. The old traditions can be adjusted or set aside as needed.
- If you would like to create a new tradition, experts recommend starting slowly and asking other family members to get involved. Try out your ideas together. If the plan adds to your family’s enjoyment and succeeds in bringing your family members closer together, you might just have a wonderful new tradition!
Photo: USAG Humphreys/Flickr