Carrying on with Tradition

I was attempting a “happy family” moment.  It was time to decorate the Christmas tree. My daughter had had a basketball game that morning. When she came home and showed off her skills to her older brothers, she fell – so she was limping around with a  huge, oozing  scrape on her knee. One brother sat on the couch across the room and literally threw the ornaments at the Christmas tree to see where they would stick. The other brother was being the tree Gestapo. (WHO PUT TWO RED BALLS ON THE SAME BRANCH ?!!!)

That was years ago. My children of course have happy memories of decorating the tree together every year. They don’t quite remember things like I do!

Traditions have been a thread that have given our family continuity through all our changes. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you are establishing your own.

Keep it simple: your kids are more likely to remember that mom was stressed out than the end result  of elaborate preparations. Simple things work just as well.

Keep it movable. Some things are just lost to you when you move from country to country. We loved Guy Fawkes Night and Boxing Day when we lived in England – but we couldn’t keep them when we moved away. But there were other traditions that could go with us everywhere – and even now have gone with my kids as they have moved away.

Keep it up. There are times when it seems that no one but you cares about keeping the traditions. (Oh, Mom, do we have to do that??)  Don’t give up. There will undoubtedly come a time when they will treasure the memories, even if those memories are not … entirely accurate!

We had one Christmas when my husband was in the hospital and I did not know if he would walk or speak or eat again. There was another when we were all grieving the loss of our home, our friends, the culture that had become ours. But we kept the small traditions, and, over the years, they helped to keep us.

What are some of your family’s Christmas traditions? Have you experienced any challenges unique to your lifestyle that make it difficult to maintain tradition? Do you have any other suggestions to share on how to carry on with family traditions?

(Post by: Carolyn)

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2 Responses to “Carrying on with Tradition”


  1. 1 Ashley L. December 6, 2009 at 6:09 am

    Thank you so much for the helpful tips! Right now our traditions are all pretty simple because that is about all that I have energy for! One family favorite is family Christmas music dance parties. =) Our kids are too young to be embarrassed about this one yet, but we may need to alter it in the future. We also celebrate Jesus’ birthday with a cake. This tradition was from my husband’s parents.

    We have a classic family memory from my childhood when my mom was trying to make this elaborate Christmas breakfast and have us all eat it before we opened our presents. It was a bit too involved and my mom got really stressed out. My brother and I were really impatient and were just wanting to open our presents. So, as my mom presented us with our fancy breakfast she exclaimed, “Here you go, you little snots!” Then the whole family busted up laughing and she jokingly delivered our (much simpler) Christmas breakfasts in the same way each year after. Anyway, I remember her telling us that the stress of the breakfast was definitely not worth it, and thus that lesson was learned early on. =)

  2. 2 Shilo December 6, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    There is so much wisdom in simplicity. I’m really trying to implement that this year in my HEART. Thanks for the great post.


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