The Importance of Creating Family Traditions at Home

by Ashley Wirgau

With another round of shut downs churning in the rumor mill, people around the country are wondering what the holidays will look like this year without the familiarity and comfort of their beloved family traditions. Crowded dinner tables, annual Turkey Trots, downtown light parades, and busy weekends lined with holiday parties are all on the 2020 chopping block, but these temporary changes need not dampen our holiday spirits. Instead, this most challenging year presents a unique opportunity to create new and treasured family traditions in the quiet and comfort of our own homes.

Yes, the fast-approaching holidays are sure to look different than last year, but as we’ve learned over the past nine months, different does not always mean disaster – sometimes it just means different.

A Season of Growth

Along with the multitude of lessons we’ve already learned in 2020, the close of this year also gives us a chance to grow as we are met with restrictions around the holidays. It allows households to gain new knowledge, discovering all the hidden skill sets we never knew we had – like baking pies and constructing five-story gingerbread condominiums. Why waste your talent on a plain old, snow-covered cottage?

Now is the time to enter those uncharted waters and try your hand at something you’ve always secretly wished you could do. Put all this time at home to good use and start practicing those from-scratch crusts with the decorative cutouts. Grandpa Mike isn’t the only one who can bake a killer apple pie. Turns out, your middle son is pretty handy with a rolling pin, too. You had just never thought to give him one before…but now that you have, guess who’s in charge of dessert next year?

A Season of Gratitude

If up until now, you’ve left the party planning to somebody else, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed and under-prepared. Welcome to the club. The truth is getting ready for holiday gatherings and giant family dinners is a lot of work. Thankfully, you can start small this year as many of us are being asked to keep socializing to a minimum. As such, you might nix the stuffed 27-pound bird, drenched in gravy, and get by with an Instant Pot turkey breast instead. Either way, dinner makes it to the table, and no one starves. The one-hour breast might even become your new thing. That fancy Keto diet doesn’t leave room for carbs or gravy anyways.

This year, you will have to do some of the heavy-lifting and flour-sifting yourself, but don’t worry, you will get by. At the end of the season, you might even have a renewed appreciation for everyone who has been handling the continuation of these traditions for you all these years. So, in 2021, when Great Aunt Joan hosts you, your six children, and two barking dogs once again, it’s safe to say you will be implementing a fresh new tradition – showing up with her favorite bottle of wine and a thoughtful (and very genuine) card. And thank goodness, she invited you back! It was high-time to ditch those crazy Keto demands.

A Season of Simplicity

In the absence of frantic holiday shopping trips, back-to-back parties and mandatory Secret Santa gift exchanges, it’s possible you actually find the holidays mean a bit more than in years past. With the inability to gather en masse, we could discover that the few we are fortunate enough to spend our time with this holiday season are even brighter and more magical than we knew.

Might our children sparkle just a tad more when we aren’t distracted by crafting the perfect cocktail to complement our New Year’s dinner party? Might our spouse be a smidge happier when they aren’t worrying over the cousins dancing across the brand new sofa and wiping fudge-covered hands on the curtains?

What if we discover that our favorite 2020 tradition is really just the absence of all those other super-involved, busy traditions of old? What if we decide that a simple weekend at home, singing favorite carols with our little family, and the twinkle light glow of our own tree beats all the glitter and gold we have grown accustomed to over the years? Maybe Cindy Lou Who was right all along. Maybe it’s not all about the “packages, boxes or bags.” We just needed a little space to learn this for ourselves.

Family traditions come in all shapes and sizes, but the ones that are built to last tend to be pure, simple, and of the heart. A grandmother’s favorite carol taught to a new generation. A grandfather’s pie crust reproduced by tiny hands. A bottle of wine delivered to your Great Aunt’s doorstep with a heartfelt note of thanks for years past alongside a promise of gratitude for gatherings yet to come.

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