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 • Lifestyle  • How to Create Traditions That Matter

How to Create Traditions That Matter

In a world where everything can change in an instant and chaos is the name of the day, traditions serve an incredible purpose in keeping us anchored, attached to our communities, and helps us heal.  Many of us inherited our traditions from our immediate families and found that our traditions are based in religion or cultural affiliation.  Even so, many things that we do during holidays or large events that qualify as traditions are not necessarily things that everyone does to celebrate those same events.  As we grow, we outgrow traditions and have holes where those traditions used to go.  Whether it is for us, communities, or children, we should take time to create and cultivate traditions that are lasting and meaningful.

To create meaningful traditions, we must first identify what we are trying to celebrate or remember.  Many of us may have grown up in the US with Christmas traditions but if we find that we no longer are affiliated with that religion and do not have strong emotional ties to the celebrations associated with Christmas, it might be time to seek another way to celebrate the winter season.  Meaningful traditions remain because they carry real meaning for us and serve as a reminder of something that we value highly.

Again, traditions are long-lasting when they hold deep meaning for us, so when you are creating the activities that you will do in the future, consider meaningful activities.  For example, creating a yearbook to catalog the events of the past year and sharing it with family during a reveal dinner can help you continually document the year while remembering to live intentionally during the year as well.  Family members can even write notes on pages within the yearbook to further add meaning to each album.

Another great idea is micro-tradition.  Think of something you can do every week or month that adds enjoyment and connection into your life.  Do you remember watching Friends or Fraiser and finding comfort and familiarity when the actors would gather at their local coffee shop?  That is exactly what happens when you build many memories over time at a regular place with familiar people.  Consider saving Saturday brunch as a sacred time to connect with your mother or friends.  Have a regular dinner that everyone in your family looks forward to, like pizza on Friday or Taco Tuesday.

Traditions are also things that are not necessarily scheduled and planned.  Before I clean the house every week, I make a warm drink (usually with caffeine) and turn on some music.  It makes cleaning more festive and helps me to engage my task with less resignation and more excitement while understanding that this activity will help me feel prepared for the week.  The basis of traditions are habits.  The more we engage these behaviors the easier they become to do and remember.  The difference is that traditions carry meaning and great value.  So, I hope my kids will find that the music and comforting beverages will help them as they prepare for their week in the future.

Traditions also help us organize our lives and pass the seasons of life or seasons of the year feeling whole.  When someone has a baby and we bring a casserole or when someone graduates and we dress-up for their graduation dinner; these are the things that help us fully experience and integrate the events that become stories and, eventually, memories we reflect on later in life.

Traditions are essential to life as a human.  They breed connection and induce memory.  They create meaning as well as reminding us of the meaning we created them to commemorate.  A sure-fire cure for the busy-ness of the holiday season is to take a step back and define the meaning and tradition that you want to invest your energy in.