I don’t know about you, but I love this time of year. The decorations, the fragrances of pumpkin, cinnamon, and pine, the excuse to wear anything covered in sequins and/or plaid. Let’s be honest, there’s a reason why this stretch of time is coined “the most wonderful time of the year.” But aside from the abundance of sugar cookies and tinsel-adorned trees, perhaps one of my favorite aspects of the fall and winter seasons is the emphasis on tradition.
Traditions. We all have them. Whether it’s always serving Grandma’s pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving or opening gifts on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas morning, we all observe something specific when it comes to the holidays. Some are more traditional, others a bit more obscure. However, one thing we can all agree on is that traditions have a way of unifying us together –as families, friends or as a community on the whole. We take a pause from our busy lives and pay homage to a day, a meal, or a specific event. We’re reminded to cherish the time we have with our loved ones, moments that aren’t shared through a computer screen or the mouthpiece of a phone –moments where we physically gather to participate in something bigger than ourselves.
In my own family we don’t have too many long-standing traditions and I’ve learned that that’s okay, they can creep up on you when you least expect it. They don’t have to have been formed years ago to be special. In fact, one of the ones I look forward to most is a tradition that sort of took us by surprise.
It was 1998 and Patch Adams had just come out in movie theaters. Following all of the holiday hoopla of opening gifts and eating brunch in our pajamas on Christmas Day, our family looked around and wondered, what to do next? I remember thinking we were so clever when we decided to go see a movie to fill our evening. Turns out, we weren’t the only ones with said novel idea. We had to pair off to find seats and most of the vacant ones were in the very last row of the theater. Despite the crowded conditions, we still had a great time and when Christmastime rolled around again, we remembered our movie idea from the year before. Every year for the past 15 we’ve gone to the movies on Christmas Day. Some years’ picks have been better than others, but, regardless of the film’s pedigree, the fact that we honor this makeshift tradition year after year is what counts.
So, if you desire to incorporate a tradition into your own family, start simple and start small. If my experience has taught me anything, it’s that the simplest of things can bring the greatest joy. Perhaps you dedicate a Saturday afternoon in December to baking cookies with the ladies in your family, or take a visit to your local ice-skating rink for a trip around the ice. Maybe your tradition becomes touring the neighborhood with mugs of hot chocolate, taking in the holiday décor, or battling the crowds together at your favorite retail stores on Black Friday. Remember, traditions don’t have to be complicated, just something fun that all of the members of your family will enjoy.
In their purest form, traditions are simply fun things that you look forward to with each passing of the calendar’s pages. They can be as grand or as modest as you’d like. For my family, it’s a movie on Christmas Day and board games after Thanksgiving Dinner. For one of my best friends, it’s opening a new pair of pajamas and gift certificates to In ‘N Out on Christmas Eve. But regardless of the tradition itself, the fact that you take time out of your busy lives to observe it year after year is what matters most.
What’s been your favorite tradition celebrated with family or friends? Why is it important to you?
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