The holiday season is such a wonderful time for families. The weather often drives us closer together, whether we snuggle for a movie or make some noise with a board game. One principle about family life never changes though. That principle? Families don’t stay the same forever; sooner or later all families grow or change in some form.
Maybe your change has occurred naturally over time, as the years have brought maturity. Perhaps your change is a transition due to death or disease or divorce. The stress of the holidays brings additional challenges when you are already facing difficult circumstances. Regardless of the reason for the growth and change in your family, today we wanted to share a few timely tips for adapting holiday traditions.
1. Look at your calendar in advance and schedule your family events.
Assuming that everyone is on the same page without discussion can result in hurt feelings. When children become teens, often they have jobs and this fact affects family time together. Reminding your teens to schedule their workdays appropriately is often the beginning of adapting holiday traditions. When children get married, then calendaring your family events definitely requires flexibility and calendaring. Begin the holiday conversations early.
2. Avoid terms like “But we always…” and instead, use “This year could we…?”
Everyone loves traditions! They draw us together in a common bond. But when flexibility is needed, mourning the loss of a standard tradition can make the situation more difficult. Use creative thinking to find ways to blend your traditions with changing circumstances. For example, if you always buy a real Christmas tree and need to use an artificial one because of allergies (True scenario!), then emphasize the fun of the family tree decorating party.
3. Try new holiday experiences to see if they might become a tradition.
Sometimes finances have forced us not to keep a holiday tradition. Sometimes the weather hasn’t cooperated. Rather than do nothing together because of the interfering circumstances, try something new. Buy a new board game. Drive around a new part of town and look at the lights. Or you could try a new Christmas cookie recipe.
4. Simplify the expectations.
When your family is growing and changing, then expectations often need to change. Gifts tend to be more expensive as children mature. Have conversations with older children and set up reasonable expectations together. “This year our goal is to do two Christmas mission projects. What should they be?” “Let’s be sure to attend at least one Christmas church service together, but it doesn’t have to be on Christmas Eve.” Choosing to simplify the expectations is a great way to set up a wonderful holiday experience for your family, regardless of transitions. One of our family’s favorite traditions is to read through the Bible story of Jesus’ birth in Luke 2. With children beginning at age 3 and going up to age 23, the challenge often encountered is how to encourage everyone to listen to this reading. We’ve found a great way to help the little ones absorb as much of the Christmas story as they can. By providing age-appropriate books like The Story of Christmas, everyone can listen to the story and interact on their own levels.