Christmas traditions are important to children and families all around the world, and this year, those Christmas traditions will be even more important than ever.
Most of us are (more than) a little bummed about the COVID restrictions over the holidays.
This is a time many families travel, go on vacation, get together with family and friends, enjoy parties, and shop and eat until their wallets are empty and their stomachs are full,
However, this holiday season will look a little different for most...
And it's precisely becauseof this, that Christmas traditions will be more important than ever.
1. Your kids are looking forward to them.
This probably goes without saying, but regardless of being in the middle of a global pandemic, kids still look forward to all the Christmas traditions of years before.
I mean, it's still Christmas, right?!
And seriously, who doesn't absolutely love to see their kids get over-the-top excited about decorating the Christmas tree, or their little faces light up on Christmas morning?
I know there's lots that, as a mom, I'm excited about and looking forward to, so imagine that x10 for our kiddos!
So don't forgo all the Christmas traditions this year just because they might look a little different.
While I'm a big proponent of kids not being sheltered from disappointment and other difficult emotions, this is a year where kids can just really use some Christmas spirit.
2. Family traditions promote a sense of safety, security, and comfort.
And Christmas is one of the most prominent places we see those family traditions come to life.
I mean, it is like a month (or more!) of every year!
Going through a global pandemic has created fear, anxiety, and uncertainty for a lot of children (and adults!) this year.
By sticking to (or adjusting as necessary) most of your typical Christmas traditions, you can enhance your kids' feelings of safety, security, and comfort that the familiarity of family traditions brings.
Even though their little worlds may be a bit uncertain and ever-changing right now, they can rest a little easier knowing some things never change (at least, not too much!).
3. Christmas traditions instill a sense of hope, wonder, magic, and joy.
And, I mean, who can't use a little of that after this crazy year?!?
Allowing our kids to experience the traditions of Christmas - whether it's through stories, or gazing at lights, or listening to music, or discovering the latest Elf shenanigans, or finding out Santa did in fact leave gifts in the stocking or under the tree this year can reignite their feelings of hope, wonder, magic, and joy.
We have no idea what January may bring, but we can still show our kids that there is hope and light and magic in the world.
They have their entire adult lives to experience adult problems.
Our job right now is to show them that no matter what the circumstances, there's always something to look forward to and be grateful for.
4. Christmas traditions strengthen family connection
For most, Christmas is a time to come together, spend time with each other, strengthen family bonds, and connect with and appreciate the important people in your lives.
Every family has their own ways of doing this, and for many, it will look a little bit different this year than most.
But I would argue it's even more important now than ever before.
With increased anxiety, fear, and uncertainty, and with all the stress and chaos of this past year, kids and adults alike need to take time to slow down, focus on the things we have to be grateful for, and connect in healthy and positive ways.
And what better ways to forget all the stresses for a moment than to just simply connect over pyjama days, Christmas movies, baking cookies, decorating the Christmas tree, snuggling on the couch beside a warm fire reading Christmas stories, and eating a delicious turkey dinner (or whatever your cozy Christmas traditions are)?
5. Family traditions enhance your child's sense of identity and belonging.
Your traditions as a family are a big part of what make your family uniquely you.
Kids are constantly (unconsciously) defining who they are and what separates them from others.
While connection is an important aspect of a child's identity, so are the unique aspects of each child and each family.
By participating in your family Christmas traditions, even through the pandemic, you are helping your child by allowing them to participate in those things that make your family unique and extraordinary...
And I'm not talking about pinterest-worthy DIY projects or perfectly executed activities.
I mean all of the little things, and the not-so-perfect moments, that just make your kids and your family perfectly imperfect.
6. Traditions help teach your kids important values.
Whatever your Christmas traditions, they are (whether intentionally or not) teaching your kids the values you have as parents and as a family, and the values you want to instill in them.
And there is no other time more important to get intentional about personal and family values than when the world is full of chaos and uncertainty.
Your values shape your children for the entire course of their lives, and help guide them during times of chaos and uncertainty, whether due to a global pandemic or other challenges, temptations, obstacles, and decisions they will undoubtedly face throughout their lifetime.
Being intentional about your values and what you want to communicate through your Christmas traditions can help you decide which to focus on and which to let go of for this year, at least.
And it can also help you with how to communicate to your kids when things are a little different.
Maybe there aren't as many gifts to open this year, but it's the thought and giving to others that counts, not the number of gifts under the tree.
Or maybe you can't get together in person with extended family, but the key to building relationships is the little things done consistently over time, not necessarily the big gatherings.
Or if you can't go on your annual Christmas vacation, it's a great time to communicate that regardless of where you are, it's being together as a family that really matters.
By knowing what values are important to you, you can communicate them through the way you speak about these changes.
And there's also the values you communicate through your typical Christmas traditions that matter too, like gratitude and appreciation when they receive a gift or card.
Or putting the electronics away and eating a meal together, undistracted and uninterrupted.
Or instilling the importance of everyone contributing to the family through helping to decorate the house or the tree, or helping to wrap gifts or bake or cook.
However your traditions may have changed this year, remember there are still so many incredible opportunities to see the positives and communicate your values to your kids.
7. Christmas traditions help kids connect to their culture, religion, and community.
Christmas and other family traditions are built in culture and religion, and during times of uncertainty and challenge, keeping a strong connection to your culture, religion, and larger community helps kids feel grounded and connected to something bigger than themselves.
And remember, Christmas traditions have changed and shifted significantly over the years and generations.
Just because your Christmas traditions may be a bit different than previous years, doesn't mean they are any less important or significant in your life or the lives of your children.
Carrying on with Christmas traditions like turkey dinner and Santa can help keep you connected to your cultural roots.
Keeping up with prayer and Christmas stories and religious celebrations can help keep you connected to your religious beliefs.
And continuing to donate time, money, or gifts to people, children, and families in need this Christmas can help keep you grounded in community.
Again, some of the traditional ways you practiced these things may be different this year, but the essence is the same.
You can still participate in these Christmas traditions to enhance your sense of culture, religion, and community.
8. Christmas traditions help us stay connected to our past.
Who doesn't relive their own Christmas memories during the holidays?
Keeping up with Christmas traditions even though they may be a bit different this year, helps us stay connected to our own past, and help us remember our own stories.
It keeps us connected to our parents, our grandparents, our great grandparents, and beyond.
Not everyone's past is pleasant, but it's still where you came from and what made you, you.
It's why you have the traditions you have today, and why you choose to do things similarly or differently than your own family or past generations did.
It's part of your story.
Embracing where you came from, your story, and the positive ways it has shaped you, through the best and the worst times, can free you to shape your future and your kids' futures.
9. Christmas traditions help connect our past to our future.
Not only do you get to remember all of the great traditions you had as a kid, but it also allows you an opportunity to pass the best of those on to your kids.
Chances are, you have certain traditions that have been in your family for several generations.
Passing those along allows you to bridge the generational gap, by communicating the stories of your own and previous generations, and passing along important family traditions to your own kids.
Many of which they will pass on to their children, who will pass on to their children, and so on.
Traditions keep our family heritage and story alive, long after we're gone.
10. Traditions are a way to create lasting memories.
Christmas traditions allow you and your family to participate in meaningful activities that can help you create memories that will last a lifetime.
It's not often we remember a particular gift we received from whom for Christmas, but what we do remember are the memories we made together.
The funny moments. The crazy moments. They joyful moments. The heartfelt moments. The sweet moments. The romantic moments. The moments that last a lifetime.
I still remember fondly as a child opening our stockings on Christmas morning, while we waited for our parents to get out of bed.
We looked at and shook our gifts, anxiously anticipating opening them. Begging our parents to get out of bed, and impatiently waiting while they made coffee and got the camera ready to capture the special moments.
We would take turns opening our gifts, equally excited for the surprise of what we would receive as well as seeing the joy on our siblings' and parents' faces for the gifts they received.
We would play with our new toys or try on our new outfits and put away our stuff as the smell of our big brunch cooking in the kitchen was wafting through the house.
We sat down together, ate, and talked about the excitement of the day ahead and how we would connect with our extended family and friends.
I don't remember what I got. I don't remember what I didn't get.
But I do remember how much I enjoyed Christmas every year, and many of those traditions I continue to create memories with within my own family and for my own kids.
And I fully intend to do so this Christmas as well.
Things may look different this year, but it's up to you to make the best of it.
There's no denying there is hardship this year. Loss. Stress. Chaos. Uncertainty. Challenge. Restrictions. Changes.
You can choose to be upset about it, or you can choose to accept that these are the current circumstances, and move forward with the Christmas traditions that you're still able to practice, that are important to you, and that your kids and your family can remember with fondness for years to come.
Heck, you might even find some new Christmas traditions come from this year that never would've happened if it weren't for some of those challenges or difficulties or restrictions!
Whatever the case, make sure you make Christmas traditions a priority for your family, even this year.
Especially this year.
Because they may just be more important this year than ever before.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and may this Christmas be one you remember and cherish for years to come!