Choosing Your Holiday Memories and Traditions

It’s the holiday season: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year!! A lot of things happen at this time of the year: parties, baking, family get-togethers, and creating a lot of fun memories.

This will be Kyle’s first Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year. I’m looking forward to celebrating the holidays with him. We bought his first pumpkin the other day and we are looking forward to carving it, seeing him feel the texture of the pumpkin and maybe even putting it in his mouth! We will dress up and go to a few houses for trick-or-treating. He will be Bamm-Bamm. We will be creating a lot of memories this year and it will be fun.

Creating memories and having traditions are great things. A tradition is something that is passed down from one generation to the next. Some traditions are fun and meaningful and others can be wild, crazy or not so fun. New traditions can also be started without having been passed down. Traditions not only create memories when a new person joins the family, but also shows what the family is about and how they spend that holiday together. Traditions can be changed or altered to make it more meaningful to the family.

What types of traditions have been passed down to you that you now share with your own family? For Halloween, as in most families, I carved pumpkins with my family, went trick-or-treating and discarded any candy with open wrappers. I may do that with Kyle, but since we’re only going to about 10 houses, hopefully nothing will be thrown out. Thanksgiving and Christmas will be similar, with turkey carving, watching football, opening presents and stuff. When Kyle is older, I will do a scavenger hunt so he can find a big present like my dad did when I was little. Those are some of the traditions that we will follow through with. We will also follow through with some of my husband’s traditions.

There are times, during the holiday season, that “fun” is not really happening because of families getting together, have arguments, recalling a loss, increased anxieties with the holiday preparation and potential weight gain. Those can be seen as a “tradition” because the above generally happens but with these a person can have a choice.

How to enjoy the family tradition without getting caught up in all the drama is a person’s choice? When families get together, a person can choose to not drag up the same type of conversation that will usually come up, like living in the past or voicing frustration that a certain person does not help out or did not help out. A person can choose to not eat whatever is put on their plates or not eat the whole thing or that second piece of the pie. A person can choose to play more football, go outside and have fun, and ignore the family drama. A person can create how they will remember the holiday season, how they will disengage when the drama happens, how they will add to the family traditions, and how they will share something new.

How do you want to remember this season’s traditions? What do you want to do differently or keep the same? No matter what, traditions help create memories that will be shared for a lifetime. So, what are you going to create today?

Related Articles:
Multiculturalism in the Kitchen
Stress, Family, Depression: Holiday Mental Health
Nurturing Yourself during the Holidays

© Copyright 2011 by Kelly Sanders, MFT, therapist in Rancho Cucamonga, California. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Eliza


    October 31st, 2011 at 11:39 AM

    An uncle of mine passed away three years ago during the Christmas season and so for the past two years the family get-together at Christmas has been quite gloomy because everybody is only talking about his passing away and not actually celebrating the season.I respect my uncle a lot but its really like Christmas is more of a sad event now..So I have planned to talk to mom about how we could have a remembrance kind of a thing in my uncle’s honor during this Christmas and then proceed to do all the things he enjoyed doing during Christmas..I think this will be great and will finally bring back some cheer to the family Christmas while still remembering my uncle.

  • T.Cunningham


    November 1st, 2011 at 8:07 AM

    While following traditions and practices that have been around for a long time is a lot of fun it is also good to do something new and set a trend yourself!
    I love doing new things at times like halloween and christmas and a lot of planning goes into it.while not all ideas may be good to follow up on later,some really do become a favorite of my cousins as well.
    and when that happens,I really feel satisfied and happy that my efforts have paid off :)

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