Traditions are one of the important keys in shaping our family culture. Traditions shape our family stories and create an identity, and shape values and priorities.
In an article by The Art of Maniliness, traditions come in daily, weekly, and monthly forms. They also come in seasonal forms. Perhaps your family has an annual road trip, or have a special way to initiate a new school year. Maybe you have a seasonal purging session in your house each year, or "spring cleaning". Yes, even those are family traditions. I love holidays because it's like an annual reminder to foster some tradition. Holidays tend to come with some expected traditions that are based on national or ethnic norms. This can make it easier to have traditions, but it can also make it easier to fall into default traditions rather than designing customs that serve your family culture.
In this episode, I discuss how we can evaluate the traditions and values we have around this holiday season, and how to be more deliberate. If you follow me on social media, you may have seen my post about what I like to do when I’m out shopping with my kids. With the holiday season approaching, it’s like kids just know they can start asking for stuff. Instead of enduring their “gimmies” all season, or waiting until the last minute to figure out what they want, I have a little trick. When we are out, my kids will always see something that sparks their interest. At first, they would ask if they could get it. Of course, I cannot get them every little thing they ask for, but I also don’t want to have mega tantrums every time we go out. In the book, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk, when kids say something like, I want to fly to the moon, you say something like, wouldn’t that be so cool, instead of, don’t be silly. Or when they say, I wish I could get all the toys in the whole toy store, you say, Wow, what would that be like! Just last week, my kids had all their Halloween candy in a big pile on the floor, and I announced I was going to eat all the candy, and pretended to ravenously shove handfuls of candy in my mouth. We laughed and laughed at how silly that idea would be! So, when my kids bounce up to me with something that makes their heart sore, I tell them I will add it to their list, take a quick pic of their beaming faces holding the thing, and they happily put it back on the shelf.
As far as gifts go, I read once that it would be cool to get “a thing to wear and thing to read, a thing they want, a thing they need.” In theory, that sounds pretty good. But it was way too simple. While I appreciate the minimalist approach, it didn’t end up working for us. So, I started thinking about what would work. We don’t want to keep loading up on toys, so our policy for gifts became about things that we felt would serve our goals. So, each birthday and Christmas, we choose a book, a puzzle or game, and an experience, and one thing they really want. This is expanded to include one thing that encourages movement, and the experience can include anything from concert tickets to class tuition. I love doing this because it makes the focus on experience, quality time, and developing knowledge and skills. We don’t need more toys, but my kids always love getting more games, projects, and experiences.