Key #4: Family Rituals and Traditions

With the holidays careening toward us, it’s hard NOT to think about the days and weeks ahead. So much magic and tradition packed into roughly 6 weeks. And so much pressure. We don’t want to add to that pressure, but we do encourage you to spend a few minutes thinking  about your family traditions before the turkey hits the oven. For children, the holidays serve as a cornerstone of faith formation. These annual events provide stability, magic, community, and memories, and they are the “keys” to unlocking your values and passing them to the next generation.

Most of us have at least some annual traditions that anchor us, and most of mine seem to be centered around food. We have certain dishes that we “have” to have each year at Thanksgiving. My aunt’s broccoli casserole, my grandfather’s crabmeat stuffing, and my grandmother’s coconut cake are staples at our holiday dinners. My kids know this and expect to see them on the table every year. These old recipes have taken on even more meaning now that my grandparents have passed on, and the youngest generation is now helping to prepare them. They know the stories of  how they came to be, and why we serve them every year. These stories lean back to link prior generations to the future, and serve to reinforce our values. (That we apparently have always loved to eat. Less is not more. More is more.)

Pausing to create traditions makes the inevitable ups and downs of family life more manageable. Children feel safe when they know what to expect. The holidays deepen their ties to family, community, and church. Take just a few minutes BEFORE the holidays to think about how to link God’s story with your family’s story. Family rituals don’t have to be elaborate, Pinterest-tastic events. Think about what you already do to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas, and then “tweak” them from a faith perspective. Find ways to practice gratitude during Thanksgiving, or develop a ritual of lighting an advent wreath and saying a prayer in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Our website offers suggestions for family devotions and prayer, serving together during the holidays, chatting by the Christmas tree, and enriching your traditions.  

Blessings for peaceful, spirit-filled holidays!