When my father passed away in December of 1992, a family tradition started to pass away as well. The way we did things on Christmas Eve and Christmas day changed dramatically. For years, I would meet my dad for Midnight Mass and then we would cap the night, at his house, drinking a shot of Jack Daniels. As much as I missed that tradition, my family started to lose another tradition as well. Getting together, for Christmas, started to change. More and more family members started to disappear for various reasons. The family holiday tradition slowly turned into an open house at my mothers. Even it has changed.
If you and your family members are faced with this change, you are probably considering alternatives. Making these decisions is a delicate move. If it is time to try something different, keep these tips in mind.
1. Make sure that all family members are involved in the discussion and the eventual decision to be made. Resentment can develop among family members, if they feel left out.
2. Have this discussion away from the holiday festivities, if at all possible. Why ruin a happy time for all. Have it during a less stressful peaceful time. Holidays can be stressful. People make sacrifices to keep others happy.
3. If you are the one in charge of making the decision of change in a tradition, offer suggestions not orders. Make yourself open to other suggestions. Bounce these suggestions off other family members.
4. When your family decides to try a change, do it for one time only. Then evaluate it with other family members. People are more willing to try something, if they can reject it later. This way, you can find if it is suitable for everyone.
5. Don’t give into frustration. If something doesn’t work, try something else. Do not just quit or say, “Have it your way.” This leads to negativity.
6. Think of this change as moving forward to something new. This is a better positive approach than the idea of abandoning an old family holiday tradition.
Make the most out of your family holiday tradition, while you still have it. Connect with your family members. Move around the room and talk to everyone that you can. Get involved in family games, but let others play, too. Sit and join in the conversation, but don’t dominate it. Be a good listener.
Finally, make time for your parents and grandparents. They won’t be around forever. Things and circumstances are constantly changing in family holiday traditions.