By definition, a tradition is something that's passed on from year after year, from generation to generation. But life isn't stagnant. It changes over the course of those years, so accepted practices and feel-good moments might not always be appreciated in the same way that our grandparents cherished them.
That's not to say that old holiday traditions must be tossed out the window when the season arrives. They can be tweaked into new holiday traditions that may be more appropriate for the here-and-now – or you might create an entirely new tradition that better suits your family.
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The Value of Traditions
Today's family traditions will become tomorrow's memories. Your kids will talk about them to their grandchildren, and the values that those traditions impart will be passed on even if subsequent generations tweak them again. They're an interwoven part of the fabric of your family.
Traditions don't have to be serious and onerous. In fact, you don't want them to be. Holidays are supposed to be fun. Consider blending the spirit of giving with a really good time drinking hot cocoa with marshmallows or sipping egg nog when you're creating holiday memories. That giving time can be a teaching moment, passing on ideas and values that are important to you.
Consider also: Your Traditions, My Traditions, Our Traditions
Ideas for New Traditions
Gifts are a staple of Hannukah and Christmas morning, but ask yourself if they really have to be something your loved ones can hold in their hands. Volunteering your time and assistance is an old, cost-saving holiday gift idea, but you might think about taking it one step further. Maybe you could donate to a cause or charity that's particularly dear to your giftee's heart, or make a donation to your own favorite charity in the name of your whole family. You could open it up for an annual, family vote. Who will you give to this year?
Consider also: 5 DIY Gifts to the Rescue
Or you might help your kids organize a mini food drive, collecting non-perishables from friends and neighbors that you can donate.
Maybe you could begin each night of Hannukah with a family member stating something that they feel thankful for. The same idea can work during the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving or Christmas Eve, or the week between Christmas Day and New Year's Eve. That last week of the year lends itself to a wish list for the next year as well. You might even dedicate a holiday jar and have each person write down their thanks/wish and tuck them in there. Then open them and read them when you're all gathered together on Thanksgiving or New Year's. Consider making it a guessing game: Who wrote this one?
Introducing a new recipe each year for holiday meals can be fun as well. Designate a different friend or family member to bring something new to the table. You might be talking about some of these entrees for years to come.
Get Your Kids Involved
The idea of driving around town to check out the neighborhood holiday lights and Christmas decorations is an oldie but goodie, and it might be most appropriate if your children are still young. But why not tackle the tour on foot if your kids are a little older? They'll have more time to appreciate each light display if you're walking rather than doing a quick drive-by. You can take along traveling mugs of hot chocolate or bags of bite-sized candy as part of the tradition.
And let's not forget the reasons for the holiday season. You might make it a tradition to volunteer at a shelter or food bank, maybe on Thanksgiving Day itself or on the day before or after an official holiday date. Make sure your children understand why you're doing it and why it's important.
Or you might decide this time of year is great for helping your kids organize a mini food drive, or collect non-perishables from friends and neighbors that you can donate. Bring them along when it comes time for them to play Santa and deliver their bounty. This easily lends itself to a tradition that should remain solid each and every year going forward, because there will always be people in need.