Making Traditions Your Own
As the holidays approach and family gatherings are planned, it’s natural to become aware of the traditions held by our family of origin. Whether these are religious ceremonies, meal rituals, or guidelines for gathering, there are many ways that we either preserve or discontinue the passing of customs. While some traditions offer joy and connection, some become a source of confusion or even contention as we reach adulthood. As we evolve from children, to adolescents, to adults, we have the power to choose what we carry on and what no longer aligns with our values.
The Role That Traditions Play in Our Life Narrative
Since the beginning of human history, traditions have been passed down from generation to generation. This transmission of customs and beliefs helps to preserve history, connects cultures, and provides a sense of community. These little family rituals can connect us with our ancestors while paving the way for our own descendants. As we leave the nest and begin forming our own families, we are presented with an opportunity to decide which traditions to preserve, thus creating a new story and new family path.
Examples of evolving traditions:
Changes in religious views
Changes in diet
Changes in world views
The traditions we carry with us into adulthood are part of our story. They communicate where we came from, the values we were taught to hold, and the belief systems we use as our guiding force.
So when we change and transform as we grow into adults, and the way we choose to practice our views change, we are actively creating our own traditions.
The impact of these personal changes becomes evident, especially around the holidays.
Determining What to Keep and What to Leave Behind
As we have more experiences inside and outside of our family of origin, we usually start to notice which things we like more, prefer less of, etc.
As we get older and know our bodies better, the people we like to be around, and even the style of living that makes us most comfortable, we may notice these can differ from what we were originally provided with.
There is power in finding new experiences that resonate with our own unique view outside of our original experiences. Traditions around the holidays are meant to bring you closer with your beliefs, the ones you enjoy spending time with, and your joy.
There is also power in being able to determine what does not make you feel enriched or connected.
Be sure to give yourself space to survey how you’re feeling about these changes. Allow yourself a grounding exercise and a check-in:
How do your old traditions make you feel?
How do your new practices make you feel?
How do both of these align with your views?
Can these traditions co-exist?
With this simple knowledge, we can start to lean more and more into what makes us feel like who we want to be.
This may not be so simple around the holidays. Do you feel torn? Do you need to be one person with one family member and another with a close friend?
How do you decide what is yours, what you want, and what no longer serves you?
This is why setting boundaries around the holidays is particularly important.
Modifying Traditions & Taking Ownership of Your Story
There is no easy or right/wrong answer. The most important thing is for you to know what is important to you and why.
Only you can determine that.
Spend some time with what you love, how it makes you feel, what makes you feel this way, and who else you want to share it with, if you choose to.
Incorporate activities you enjoy into your celebrations. Maybe try doing a family craft or a new game, add your favorite songs to the playlist, or incorporate a new dish into the menu.
Acknowledge what is important to you and how you want to use that to connect.
Once you know this, you build a stronger bond with what is important to you. You will be clear about what you want to carry forward, how you want to support your tradition, and if there are others you want to be included.
Use your boundaries to help yourself stay true to your story. Your unique story is beautiful.
Whether you want to continue with the traditions you were born and raised with, add your own twist, or create a completely new set of values, tastes, and traditions– or somewhere in between– it is all about Making Traditions Your Own.
Enjoy your discovery!
Devin R. Burrill & Pamela A. Silver, Making Cellular Memories (2010).
Anna Lardone, Marianna Liparoti, Pierpaolo Sorrentino, Rosaria Rucco, et al., Mindfulness Meditation Is Related to Long-Lasting Changes in Hippocampal Functional Topology during Resting State: A Magnetoencephalography Study. (2018).