Navigating Changes in Your Holiday Traditions

Many families have traditions, especially around the holidays, but as time goes on and our families grow and move and change, these traditions may evolve or change. That can be difficult—how can we deal with these changes to our beloved holiday traditions?

“I think we need to hold loosely to the things that we think are so precious. And sometimes we have to realize that by holding onto something, we may be letting go of the most important thing, which is our relationships—our relationship with God or our relationship with our family,” says Brenda Garrison, author of several books on family and faith. She recommends that when you are about to lose it over the loss of a tradition, you should weigh what is more important to you—that a certain tradition happen as it has in the past, or that you maintain your relationship with your family?

Don’t try to guilt your children and family members into keeping your family traditions alive. “It may work for a time, but eventually … the more guilt or manipulation you put on a relationship is just like pulling back a rubber band. Guilt and manipulation just pull that rubber band tighter and tighter until one day it snaps and it is going to go far,” says Garrison. The tighter you hold onto your traditions without flexibility for changes in your family, the further you may be pushing your children away from you.

Holy Land Pilgrimage with Drew Mariani

What is the best way to approach the holidays and getting people together without pressure or guilt? “I want to create an environment where we can all have fun and be together, but that people can come and go [as it] works out with their situation and schedule,” explains Garrison. “The most important thing is about being together and it’s not so much about what you eat or when you’re together.”

Mom, dad, and kids sit by Christmas tree and open presents
Holy Land Pilgrimage with Drew Mariani
Lindsey is a wife, mother, and contributing author at Relevant Radio. She holds a degree in Journalism and Advertising from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Lindsey enjoys writing, baking, and liturgical living with her young family.