Starting Your Own Unique Family Holiday Traditions

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Start unique family holiday traditions by enjoying the moment and not being so stuck in the typical traditions that you refuse to indulge in a new idea. If it’s fun, it’s worth a try. If it really was fun, it’s worth repeating.

The practice of starting new holiday traditions usually begins when you are an adult out on your own for the first time. At this point you exist as a family of one (as well as still part of the family with your parents and siblings, but on a different level now). During this time you may realize that some of the ways your family celebrated the holidays may not necessarily be how you want to. This is your time to figure out what traditions you’d like to keep, what new traditions you’d like to start, and where you’re impartial and willing to go with the flow.

Becoming a family of two makes for an interesting first Christmas together, deciding whether to do things your way, his way, your family’s way, or his family’s way. The solution? Compromising together to create a whole new plan that mixes what is most important to you both. It is a rough task, but completely necessary to developing into your own family apart from either set of parents. As a couple you have to work it out between the two of you and decide how the rest of the relatives fit into your plans as a new family.

And then the family grows into three or more. Being flexible enough to start unique family holiday traditions is especially important if you have children. When it comes to kids, nothing goes as planned. Finding something that makes them happy, and makes you happy too, is of the utmost importance. This could mean anything, since every child is different and one family’s needs differ from another. Growing up, my family had some traditions that worked for us. We didn’t have a fire place, so we hung our stockings from the deer antlers that adorned the wall. Our Christmas wish lists to Santa were limited to 1 to 3 presents with the combined cost not to exceed $100 (we learned to budget very young — as an adult I’m grateful my parents set up Christmas this way). We would each open one present on Christmas Eve to ease the anticipation, followed by opening all of the presents on Christmas morning. We children were not allowed into the living room until 7 a.m. — no earlier. As you can see, while to us these were family traditions, they also functioned as useful rules to keep the holidays running smoothly.

There are some traditions that are serendipitous. One year, a photo was snapped of me wearing a new sweater, and my Mom managed to catch the deer antlers right behind my head! There have been a few staged photos copying this event with various family members since then (and a few more accidental ones, too). It’s good fun.

This is my second Christmas as a married woman. My husband and I are still sorting out what traditions to keep from each of our families and which ones to toss out and create our own instead. This Halloween my husband took our plastic bat decorations and hung them from our ceiling. We’re both nature lovers and thought they were so cute that we left them up into November. When it came time to decorate for Christmas, instead of taking the bats down I decided to decorate them, too. I attached a red and green bow to each one. We got such a kick out of our Christmas bats that we’ve decided to make this into an annual tradition. While I admit, the tradition of Christmas bats is most certainly not for everyone, it amuses us and serves as a special token of creating our own life together where only the two of us decide what is right for us. Granted, the bats also serve as an inside joke, which is definite bonding material as well.

Holidays are whatever you make of them. There is no “perfect” way to do Christmas. If you like a tradition, do it. If you don’t like a tradition, do something else. Let go of the notion of perfection and focus on loving your family and having fun. You’ll see that by shifting your focus, the memories you make will be perfectly wonderful. Isn’t that more important?

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