Traditions bring families together
When I was growing up, Christmastime meant sweet potato pie and sneaking out of bed on Christmas Eve with my sister, watching for Santa’s sleigh to come gliding out of the night sky. When I became a parent, my husband and I started an advent calendar tradition using a miniature dresser we found at Hobby Lobby. We stuffed each of the 24 drawers with scriptures, surprises, and clues for finding treats around the house.
Whether you grew up in a family that enjoys traditional holiday routines passed down through the generations or are just starting your own, you can create fun and memorable activities that aren’t complicated or conventional and that can reap positive benefits for your family.
A 2002 review of research conducted by Syracuse University found that “rituals were powerful organizers of family life, supporting its stability during times of stress and transition.” Researchers found that routines (traditions) are important for the psychological health and well-being of the family and create a sense of closeness and belonging.
For the fun of it, let’s take a look at what some families in Georgetown have done to create holiday traditions in their homes. Maybe we can pick up some new ideas:
Longtime Georgetown resident and mother of two boys Monica Turner made sure the house smelled yummy on Christmas morning. “We always had baked apples, biscuits, and egg and sausage casserole for breakfast. The kids loved the smells wafting while we opened gifts.”
Monica also alluded to the Three Wise Men by limiting gifts to three for each child. “It seemed to help them savor and appreciate the gifts a little more,” she says. She and her husband played a game of hide and seek with their boys. Every year, they’d hide the baby Jesus from their nativity set and the boys had to find him. “They were appalled to find him in the dryer one year,” Monica says.
When Lenora Hausman was raising her children, the family tradition was to open one gift on each of the eight nights before Hanukkah. The children were treated to warm potato latkes and played games of dreidel. A dreidel is a wooden four-sided spinning top with Hebrew letters on each side.
Lynn Jimenez and her family order Chinese dinner for delivery on Christmas Eve. “My family has been doing this for 50 years,” she says.
Jen Mauldin, local life transition coach, also incorporates food into her holiday festivities. “After so many years of turkey and ham, our recent tradition for Christmas dinner is a hodge-podge of food that people have expressed a desire for. For example, one year we had salmon, banana pudding, rice casserole, and a Brussels sprouts dish. No one cares if it’s a Real Simple or Martha Stewart table or if the dishes go ‘properly together,’” she says.
Stephanie Huges Blanck waxes nautical at Christmastime, decorating her home in a sea-worthy theme. “I have a very nautical mantle—including fishnet and everything. . . . It pays homage to my Long Island roots.” Stephanie serves steak and lobster on Christmas day instead of turkey.
The Moffett family’s tradition is to talk about what they’ve learned during the year. They ask, “What we would have done differently?” says Jade Moffett. “We also sing and lip-sync to our Christmas music while decorating the tree,” says Herb Moffett, Jade’s dad.
Whether your traditions feature music, food, gifts, or decorating, incorporating Christmas routines helps to unify the family and create memories.