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Oregon Family Magazine

Make Memories with Family Traditions

12/02/2022 ● By Pilar Bradshaw, M.D., F.A.A.P.
Family traditions, no matter which holidays you celebrate, will yield the benefits of quality time. In addition to strengthening family bonds, traditions create a sense of belonging and help children better define their identity and culture.

Keep familiar traditions

Traditions that your family or your friends maybe already practice:

  • Cooking or baking: Time in the kitchen is a great way to make connections. When you’ve baked too much, take some treats to a neighbor or share with friends who will benefit from your kindness.
  • Reading a classic: Favorite holiday tales are worth re-reading year after year. As children get older, try a true classic, such as Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”
  • Attending a performance: This is a great way to make memories and support local performing artists.
  • Decorating: Even if all you do is string up some lights, the sparkle is sure to boost the spirits of you and your visitors.
  • Listen to music or sing songs together: Similar to tastes and smells, sounds can create and conjure many memories.

Consider new traditions, too!

New traditions allow the opportunity to do things differently, challenging families to think outside the box, to create more inclusive activities for people beyond the family sphere. Brainstorm together to see what matters to each person and try to come to a consensus. Some new traditions may be:

  • Turning off your devices: At least one night a week, turn off all your electronic devices as you do something together — watch a holiday movie, play a board game, cook a family dinner with special foods. Make it fun by using a decorated basket that even parents have to deposit their phones into. No ifs, ands or buts!
  • Doing something for your community: Volunteer at community events, or buy gifts for a community giving tree or toy donation drive. If you have special crafty skills, considering knitting a hat or sewing a stuffed animal to donate.
  • Inviting friends: If your children have friends who don’t have a stable home life, invite these friends into your home or to a family activity. It will give them a safe place to feel included during what can be a difficult time for some children and teens.

Even if your current situation is challenging — maybe there’s been a divorce, an illness or a loss in the family — the consistency of traditions provides a welcome structure and a safe space in which to be thoughtful and intentional during the holidays when spending time together.