The Holidays are already here, and if you are like me you have made about one hundred “To Do Lists” for everything from shopping, baking, decorating, gift giving to general household duties. But have you intentionally focused on the traditions that you want to share and pass on to your children? Experts agree that sharing family traditions is an important part of identity formation, as it gives children a base from which to understand from where it is they’ve come. Many family values are also passed on to children through sharing traditions. Because of the holidays December always seems to me to be the month most packed with opportunity to share traditions, rituals and customs.
Regardless of what holiday or combination of holidays a family observes, there are a multitude of religious and non-religious traditions to share with children. In our home we are fond of baking and cooking. We pull out the dusty recipe box that holds the precious recipes handed down from both my husbands and my family. Finding the old recipe cards that are written in my Grandmothers handwriting, or seeing that a recipe was handed down from my husbands great grandmother who came to this country as a young girl are all story starters for my daughters and I. Being in the kitchen together gives us the opportunity to spend quality time working together, and I get to teach them some cooking skills that they may never learn if it weren’t for our Christmas baking.
I often hear from families that they are concerned about not having any traditions to pass on to their children. However, once we start talking about things that are done the same way every year, whether the immediate family created them or it came from their ancestors, there are traditions being shared. Traditions for some are quite small and have no religious or special meaning other than this is the way my mom did it. While other traditions exemplify great religious or spiritual meaning for people. In my estimation there is no tradition to small or great that should not be passed on to your children. If it has meaning for you it will have meaning for your children.
If you are a blended family either through race, religion, or marriage it is a lovely idea to develop customs, traditions or rituals of your own that will become part of the legacy you leave of your love and commitment to each other’s values. It is never to soon or too late to start a tradition or dust an old one off and start sharing it with those that mean the most. So in keeping with my family tradition, I wish you all a joyful and blessed Thanksgiving and Christmas, and prosperous New Year.