It really isn’t about the centerpiece, the gourmet side dishes, or the curated playlist Alexa is DJ-ing. Celebrating holidays is about taking time out of regularly scheduled activities to pause and join together as a family.
Holiday rituals are meaningful to marking special moments in our lives. They bridge the ordinary with the extraordinary as they give us a sense of purpose and belonging and they help us manage extreme emotions and stress.
Research confirms that holidays are especially important to children. Celebrating them builds a strong bond in a family, and the happy memories seem to be associated with more positive interactions when our kids become parents. The way we celebrate expresses what’s significant to us and the traditions we perform tie us to past generations and give us a sense of belonging.
Holidays traditions have myriad benefits:
- giving us a sense of security, identity, and belonging;
- making the world feel safe and predictable;
- providing comfort when things are unfamiliar;
- helping kids know they matter.
Mattering is the belief that we make a difference in the world around us, and that develops a strong bond, known as secure attachment. One way to show kids they matter is to connect them with people and places that broaden their world. Participating in the rituals of holiday celebrations is a way to make that connection.
Define your mission
To focus on what your family considers important during the holiday season, define your family mission statement to frame how you want to celebrate. Ask these questions:
- Who are we as a family?
- What do we care about?
- What do we believe?
- What is the purpose of our holiday celebration?
Take this opportunity to get curious about the origins of the holiday you celebrate and your family’s personal traditions. Psychologists view curiosity as a life force, vital to happiness, intellectual growth, and wellbeing.
Explore other traditions
Learn about the holidays and traditions of other religions and cultures. Why do Jews observe Passover, Christians celebrate Easter, and Muslims participate in Ramadan?
Be thankful. Practice gratitude. It has the power to energize and to heal.