As the Christmas season approaches, I always pause to think about the traditions my family has established and consider if there are any new ones I want to establish. There is just something about this season, and while I’m not a melancholic (in fact, it is the least prevalent temperament of the 4 for me) and not naturally drawn to traditions, I do realize the importance of them.
Traditions in both our family and our faith help us in a variety of ways:
- Build strong relationships
Every relationship needs time and attention to grow and strengthen. Traditions help us set aside special time with the people we love. When strong traditions are established, people will go out of their way to continue to be a part of them.
- Have a sense of belonging and identity
Traditions, once established, are predictable, reliable, and a constant in our ever- changing lives. This familiarity is comforting. It provides a sense of belonging in a time in which it is so easy to feel disconnected and detached.
- Develop lasting memories
Positive memories are important. Our past influences our future and positive feelings about our past help us to create positivity in our present.
- Bring excitement and anticipation
Advent is a season of anticipation. Anticipation and excitement are generally the predecessors to joy and fulfillment. In this season, with our anticipation of the joy of the birth of Christ, we mimic the anticipation of the everlasting joy and fulfillment we will find in heaven.
- Bridge the gap between generations
Traditions can be a connecting thread from our past to our present to our future, from one generation to the next. The preservation of our past is the key to wisdom. As G.K. Chesterton says in Orthodoxy, “Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.”
Pause for a minute to think about your traditions. What are your family traditions? Which traditions have you forgotten about and want to resurrect? Are there any new ones you want to establish?