Benefits of breaking some family holiday traditions

mixed family breaking from holiday traditions eating turkey 2020

Traditions are part of what makes the holidays memorable. Thinking back on your childhood, you might have some amazing memories of holiday’s past that are steeped in tradition. You may have even brought some of them into adulthood and your own family. There’s no doubt that traditions help families stay connected and remind them of their roots but there may come a time when it helps to break traditions and build new ones.

Should traditions always be kept?

Traditions can bring comfort and a sense of familiarity and belonging, but they can also be stifling and keep you from growing and expanding. Holding onto traditions can exclude other possibilities that might be a better fit for you and your family. While traditions can be a wonderful way to hold onto the past, there may be room for change in your future.

Here are some indicators you might be ready to break some traditions:

Your family dynamics change

It might have been fun to participate in a tradition for a season, but a change could be in order. If your family dynamics change and it doesn’t make sense to hold onto a tradition, be open to letting it go, creating a new one or making a modification. Some typical reasons family dynamics change:

  • Marriage, divorce, blending families
  • Children mature or grow up
  • Time constraints or changes in schedules

When the dynamics in the family change, it may be time to break a tradition and begin something new.

You’re bored or changed interests

Some traditions felt great for a time, but everyone is always changing and growing. Adapting and expanding your interests can affect your traditions. What once felt comforting begins to feel controlling. Don’t let familiarity cause you to hold onto traditions that you’ve outgrown.

Creating new traditions can create joy

Finding new ways to create traditions during the holidays can reduce stress and create joy. Growing and expanding with your family as it changes can help you hold onto traditions you love while finding new ones that have meaning for where you are in life at the moment. Ask yourself these questions to help you create new traditions.

What makes sense for your stage of life?

If your children are small, there may be a host of activities that you engage in as part of your tradition. As they age, it makes sense to stop some activities and find new age-appropriate activities. Asking what makes sense for your current stage of life will help you break traditions you don’t need and create ones that everyone will enjoy.

What do you love most this time of year?

Asking yourself…and your family, what they love most and want to do each year will help you engage in the activities that matter. You never know, that one time you had pizza for Thanksgiving dinner could be a tradition they want to experience each and every year. You never know if you don’t ask!

Sometimes traditions can actually weigh families down and cause stress. It’s important to take time and review your beloved traditions and see if there isn’t room for improvement, retirement, or creating new traditions altogether. 

3 Alternatives to Traditional Holiday Celebrations

Depending on where you live, there are typical ways to celebrate the holidays. Friends, family, and culture all influence how special days unfold and what foods and activities usually accompany them. Getting into the habit of celebrating the holidays a specific way can make it hard to break from tradition- though breaking free can actually be a valuable change.

You may be used to celebrating the holidays a very specific way and have never given any thought to trying something new. There are unlimited ways to experience the holidays that don’t include turkey dinners, presents under a tree, or winter wonderlands. As a matter of fact, it can be a ton of fun to try something entirely different for your holiday season. Here are three alternatives to traditional holiday celebrations that might be of interest to you and your family.

Alternative #1. Travel

Most people stay close to home during the holidays. They love the traditions of decorating, enjoying specific foods, and spending quality time with family. Though these are fun traditions, travel can be an amazing alternative.

Try traveling to a location that experiences the holidays in magical ways you can’t get where you live. If you are in a warm climate, head to the snow. Do you live in the snow? Head for the beach. Live in America? Then try a European holiday.

Alternative #2. Friends over family

Some people spend their holidays with family and limit their activities with friends. Family is great, but there’s something wonderful about friendships. That’s why Friendsgiving has become so popular. Try spending a holiday with your friends doing a fun activity that you wouldn’t normally experience on a holiday.

Consider going skiing on Christmas and forgo presents for a VRBO and a lift ticket. Make memories with friends by having a potluck and heading to the movies for a blockbuster instead of cooking a traditional meal.

Alternative #3. Giving back to your community

There are plenty of people experiencing the holidays in hospitals, shelters, and other unexpected places. Consider spending the day in your community serving others who rarely get noticed.

Try volunteering at an animal shelter to walk animals or clean. Serve at a homeless shelter and support your community by donating your time and energy to help those less fortunate. You can get your whole family involved and make an impact on those you’re serving and yourselves.

If you’re looking to shake things up, why not try an alternative holiday celebration this year? Breaking away from the norm helps create memories and can leave a lasting impression for you and your whole family.