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Shifting Holiday Traditions

In this festive season, it’s important to appreciate traditions of the past. Be selective, and maintain the ones that  mean something. There is no need to do it all, and  it may make sense to repurpose them in some way, or dispense with a few. You may also be surprised about what matters to different family members. Ask them. Something that seems unimportant to you may be significant to someone else. It’s also heartening when a younger generation asks, “when are we doing [insert whatever it is]”?

Chances are, your family traditions have evolved over time, whether due to marriage or other life events. “We always do it this way” gives way to change. For example, for newlyweds, whose family dessert prevails at the holiday table, and why not just make two?! For many, holidays can’t always be celebrated on the actual day, as people travel or divide up to visit other family and friends. The kids in the family grow up, and may be away for work, study or travel, maybe joining family via Skype or Facetime. With seniors aging, some of the usual activities may have to be adapted or even suspended.

Think about what makes you happy. Years ago, our closest family friend gave each of my sister and me a beautiful pewter Christmas tree. Take my word, my sister does a more beautiful job of decking hers out, but when we pull it out every year, it’s with a smile and it marks the season. I love seeing the tree in her home when visiting, or if we’re apart, we share the beauty and memory. Our close family friend continues to be a constant, and is part of the holiday fabric.

Making my sister’s molasses cookies is part of that same experience. Checking in for advice, tasting the dough as it chills, reporting on the outcome; these are just small ways to trade the season’s cheer and hold onto the past, but in a new way. It’s not the same as when we were kids, but it remains a tradition. 

For caregivers, traditions will necessarily evolve. Keeping seniors to a schedule, pausing to reminisce even where memories are fading, having a few special food items to share: all make the season memorable, even if it is not the same.

From, whatever and wherever you are celebrating, take the best of family traditions and enjoy the time together!  


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