As we enter into this holiday season, I often stop to think about my own family traditions. Especially now that my family has expanded to include two wonderful daughter-in-laws and two precious granddaughters, new traditions are happening.
Holiday traditions serve an important role in the lives of children. They instill a sense of security and provide a source of strength for the entire family. Customs and family are what the holidays are all about.
Predictability is provided by holiday traditions. To feel secure, a child needs to feel his life is predictable. He needs to believe that no matter what happens in the world around him, some things remain the same. Just the fact of knowing that the Christmas angel will sit atop the tree or that the Menorah candles will be lit exactly the same way this year as last will comfort him. Traditions give children something to depend on year after year and provide an ongoing sense of continuity — important for creating stable, secure adults.
Family uniqueness is celebrated with customs, and holiday traditions allow each member to embrace that special uniqueness. These unique family traditions create lifelong memories and allow children to feel as if they are an important part of a special group.
Traditions bond generations together and allow us to teach our children about where we came from and how we’re connected to one another. They allow a wonderful opportunity for family members to bridge the gap between the past and the future. When grandparents talk about their own lives and family’s history, children gain knowledge about the past. Isabelle is becoming very interested in Great Grandparents Dollie and Bob and hearing about traditions of when I was growing up. On a recent visit to see Santa and eat under The Great Tree in the Walnut Room, she was fascinated to hear her daddy and Uncle Billy had done so as children every year too. I think this strong feeling of connection to their family’s history is one of the most important gifts a grandparent can give to their grandchildren. The celebration of Kwanzaa was founded with this purpose in mind — to commemorate culture and food and to reconnect with African heritage.
So this year, make an effort to include elderly family members and friends in your festivities. Encourage grandparents and grandchildren to decorate Christmas cookies together, prepare Latkes and jelly donuts or discuss the seven guiding principles of Kwanzaa. Find ways to connect the generations, even if everyone can’t be together in person.
Two grandmothers . . . two religions . . . instead of seeing this as a dilemma, view this as an opportunity to blend each side of the family’s customs. Many families today honor a combination of Christian and Jewish holidays as an example. Children will perceive this as having the best of both worlds, and they’re probably right. Teaching acceptance and tolerance of other religions and customs is a wonderful gift to our children.
As this holiday season approaches, use its many opportunities to help your children learn about gratitude, empathy, generosity and courtesy. Incorporate these ideas into your home and create a more peaceful world.
- Give thanks before a meal.
- Talk about the magic of the season: bright and twinkling lights, the quiet of the first snow, celebrating with family and friends.
- Make plans for sharing with others: making cards or gifts, baking goodies for friends, visiting shut-ins, planning surprises.
- Take time to savor the joy in your heart.
Most importantly, keep the traditions that truly mean the most to everyone and start a few new ones of your own. No matter how you celebrate the season, may it be beautiful and peaceful.
Happy Hanukkah Go Jul Buon Natale Feliz Navidad Happy Eid
. . . Ms. Kathy