Photo courtesy of Carrie Stephens
Every year I look forward to December 1st with great anticipation. On that day, our family decorates our home for Christmas. We make a huge event out of it – using teamwork to lug all of the dusty boxes from the attic, heaving and grunting under their weight, but loving the exertion because we know what their contents represent. My favorite part of the day comes when, after hours of deciding on the perfect location for all of the glittery snowmen and the mistletoe, we flip open the boxes filled with ornaments. Each tiny but ornate decoration reminds us of all of the happy Christmases we’ve spent together, and we reminisce about years gone by as we select the perfect spot on the tree for each treasured trinket.
Researchers tell us that the fun holiday traditions that our families enjoy every year are actually way more important than most of us probably ever realized. They’re so important, in fact, that families who establish and regularly carry out yearly traditions are stronger and have more tightly bonded members than other families because these rituals instill a deep sense of consistency and reliability in an otherwise hectic world. Traditions that we can rely on help us develop feelings of trust and confidence – two very important characteristics that aid in creating mentally stable and happy individuals.
Because traditions create a sense of unity among family members, it means that people in families who practice yearly traditions will be less likely to seek out feelings of belonging elsewhere in other (potentially negative or dangerous) social circles. This naturally adds even more strength and importance to the familial bond. Family traditions help build a sense of identity in all members of your family, because the customs you create will be special and unique, ranging from the timing of certain events to inside jokes. The youngest members of your family can even gain a connection to their ancestors through rituals that have been passed down through the ages.
Traditions and rituals don’t have to involve a holiday, but as we are currently right in the middle of the holiday season, it just so happens that most of us are spending lots of time preparing for and enjoying holiday traditions at the moment. Because of the emotional connection that is tied to the events, foods, songs and rituals that surround holidays year round (but most significantly the holidays in December), it’s important to be aware of just how important these moments are to your family as a whole, and to your family members as individuals.
In today’s modern society, as we are constantly confronted with the interference of technology and with the advent of an ever-changing definition of “family,” it can be challenging to honor traditions that many family members have strong emotional connections to. We must all work to find a way to put down our electronic gadgets and make compromises that will enable us to keep our time-honored traditions alive. Even as family structures shift, the stability of practicing family rituals will keep any family strongly bonded and emotionally sound.
We here at TinyShift would like to take this moment to wish all of our readers Happy Holidays. We sincerely hope your family traditions go off without a hitch.