Tom Watson's Blog

Establishing Traditions

Tom Watson - Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Traditions offer parents and children a chance to share time together in a unique way, seperate from the day-to-day routines. Establishing traditions with our families is very important all throughout the year. However, the holiday season may be the time of year that best lends itself to the establishment of traditions worth cherishing for years to come.

In Man Shoes, I share some of my family's traditions, as well as tips and ideas for implementing your own traditions. I've always had a creative approach to building unique traditions around special events like Christmas, as clearly outlined in Chapter 10 when I share the story of shooting Santa. Traditions have the ability to strengthen bonds and unite families.

Here are some of my thoughts and tips on building traditions within your own families:
  1. You don't have to shoot Santa, but you do need to create and celebrate your own traditions with your family, which will lead to many great memories.
  2. Traditions can only be successful if you consistently sustain them over the years.
  3. Simple and inexpensive traditions are best.
  4. A tradition is only as good as the joy it creates. Experiencing happy traditions will encourage your children to pass them on to their children.
(Shared from Man Shoes, p. 174) 

I'm sure you can see all of the potential opportunities for creating traditions throughout the holidays. Hopefully you already have a few of your own in place, even if you don't realize you've built a tradition. Activities as simple as leaving cookies and coffee (instead of milk) for Santa, or eating breakfast in pajamas on Christmas morning become traditions that everyone looks forward to year after year.

If you have been wanting to establish some traditions this time of year, here are some ideas to help get you started. Make them your own with a unique twist that fits your family perfectly and before you know it, you'll be enjoying the same activity with your grandchildren!

  • Make decorating a family affair, both inside and outside. Task the kids with deciding where the lights should be hung and how the manger pieces should be arranged. Let them be a part of the whole process as much as possible, and be flexible with their suggestions.
  • Choose a few holiday movies that are family favorites and spend a night having a movie marathon. Sip hot chocolate, snuggle under blankets and most importantly, make sure everyone stays up past bedtime!
  • Bundle everyone in their pajamas and pile in the car. Take along a thermos of hot chocolate and some Christmas cookies (or grab some fast food that's suitable for eating in the car) and then drive around your city "oohing" and "aahing" over the decorated homes.
  • Make Christmas presents for the birds and squirrels by spreading peanut butter on pine cones and rolling in bird seed. Together, hang them from trees in your yard. Then, watch the thankful animal feast from the cozy comfort of indoors.
  • Perform a dramatic retelling of "Twas The Night Before Christmas," putting your own spin on the tale by personalizing it with family names or activities. Or, help the kids practice and perfom their own version.
There are no rules to establishing traditions - just think of what your family loves and find a way to make it special and unique. What traditions do you already have in place with your family? 

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