Establishing Family Traditions (Or Eliminating Them)

If you’re not establishing your family traditions, who is?

Family traditions go beyond the magic of the holidays and are present in our everyday lives, even if we don’t always give them a name. Traditions strengthen the bond of a family, establish connection, provide a source of identity, teach values, and offer comfort and security in a fast-paced, ever-changing world.

What is “tradition”?

We throw around the word, but what does it mean to you?

Does it bring you pain, because perhaps, traditions have changed?

Does it bring joy, because you see the joy that it’s brought to your children?

When we were first married, I came into our marriage with so many “traditions” that I think I may have overwhelmed Matt (and we didn’t even have kids yet)! Maybe a better word for tradition would have been “expectation”. We had a tradition (or expectation) for everything growing up, some meaningless, some wonderful; some healthy and some not so much.

Especially since having children, we truly believe that establishing traditions in our home, with a specific thought, purpose, and intentionality are a pillar of our family culture.

However, there is a temptation when you’re first married, or welcome a new child into your home, to go crazy with traditions. And there are so many amazing ones out there, (hello Pinterest!) and some I just don’t understand (elves are creepy people)! Don’t fall into that trap. The trap I still many times find myself caught up in; the trap of doing it all.

Start slow and pick a few.

Family traditions are one of those areas where quality beats quantity every time.

It’s important to also remember to not just create, but also eliminate traditions temporarily when needed, and be flexible in changing seasons. For example, if your family has always been together Christmas morning, things may need to change when getting married, or first adding a baby.

Trying to merge traditions from you and your spouse’s side of the family can often be an unforeseen sticky point in the beginning stages of your marriage. It was one of the hardest things we first faced as newlyweds, and rightfully so. My family always opened several gifts on Christmas Eve, while Matt is a firm believer in saving all the fun for Christmas morning.

Elf on a shelf - Quote image: Family traditions connect generations that have gone before, to generations that will come after. | The Pause Pursuit - Establishing Family Traditions

My advice: Communicate! Get creative, try to compromise, and find ways to combine traditions.

Better yet, instead of allowing strife in about whose childhood traditions to carry on, focus your energies on creating your own traditions that are unique to your new family! And, as always, look to God’s Word as first priority, not a last resort. There are some traditions that are healthy to cultivate as your own.

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and unites with his wife, and they become a new family. –Genesis 2:24

Some traditions aren’t always good, and sometimes those ones still find a way into your family, no matter how hard you try. Maybe the holidays brought stress, pain, or things you’d rather forget as a child. No matter what your Christmas’s looked like as a child, ask the Lord to show you the special moments from your childhood to carry on with your family.

But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good. –1 Thessalonians 5:21

So where do you start in establishing new family traditions in your home this holiday season?

First and foremost, make it yours!

Don’t just do it because you feel pressure to do it.

A rule we follow when it comes to establishing family traditions in our home is the ‘Rule of P’s”

  1. Pray: Pray and ask God, “Is this tradition healthy for our family? Will it bring life or cause confusion?”
  2. Purpose: Ask yourself with your spouse, “What is the purpose of this tradition, and how do we hope it brings our family closer to each other or t0 others?”
  3. Personal: Make it personal to your family. Incorporate traditions from your childhood, but focus on creating your own traditions with your new family.
  4.  Plan: Have fun, but don’t add too much pressure. Some of the greatest traditions are established when things go wrong, or in letting things play out organically.

Family traditions offer benefits far beyond “likes” on any social media platform, or the perfect photo opp for your family scrapbook.

Family traditions connect generations that have gone before, to generations that will come after.

My dad will never meet his grandchildren on this side of heaven. He will never see them open gifts Christmas morning, or get sick with them from eating too much cookie dough from Christmas cookies as he did with my brother and I. But the angel from his childhood will still light up the top of the tree in our home. We will still hide “the Christmas pickle” as the last ornament on the tree, and the first one to find it Christmas morning will open the first gift (a tradition from my dad’s German heritage). And when we do, I will tell our kids the silly traditions he and my mom established for our family when we were kids.

We’d love to hear some of the family traditions you’ve established in your home this holiday!

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