‘Tis the season for celebrations, family gatherings, and observing time-honored traditions. But what do you do if some traditions are no longer possible?
Change Is Inevitable
Learning how to deal with the emotional challenge of changing traditions and why it’s okay to start some new ones is a wonderful way to embrace change. The first and most important thing to realize is that you are not experiencing something that others haven't already been through (and have come out singing “Joy to the World” on the other side).
There are many types of life events people experience throughout the year which create the need for a family tradition to be altered or, in some cases, completely dropped. It could be anything from the birth of a grandchild, a marriage, moving to a new state, or changing jobs that adds a whole group of new people to the mix. Moving to a Senior Living community is another.
Realizing that others have found ways to cope with changes and in the process have found new ways to have peaceful and joy-filled holidays can make things a lot easier.
The True Meaning of Tradition
If your family is faced with the necessity of no longer celebrating a tradition, perhaps it's time to stop for a minute and think about what a tradition really is.
The typical definition of tradition reads something like: a belief, behavior, or custom passed down from generation to generation that has a symbolic or special meaning.
Of course, all of that is true; and important. But the foundation of a tradition isn't necessarily about passing the torch of a long-time family ritual. If you really think about it, the underlying purpose of performing any type of tradition is to create memories with your family — memories that will last longer than great-grandmother’s angel tree topper.
Here are a few ways families can transition or adapt to new and improved holiday traditions.
Play a game. Try a spin on Pictionary using a white board, dry erase markers, and either the cards from the game or your own creative and random objects to draw. A Gin-Rummy, Speed, or Yahtzee tournament creates bonds, along with a little good-humored competition.
Walk Down Memory Lane. Have family members pull out a picture from an album (or print off their iPhone) and take turns sharing that special occasion. The stories can be from last week or 50 years ago.
Experience Something New Together. Maybe your family has never been caroling, baked sugar cookies, or gone to see a performance of A Christmas Carol. That’s the great thing about traditions: new ones are always waiting to be created.
Even if you can’t be there or celebrate the way you used to, there’s no stopping you from being a participant. With things like Skype and Facetime, you can open a video chat and still be a part of the fun. Regardless of the reason your holiday traditions are changing the most important thing to remember is to stay connected.