Tis the season to decorate the tree, bake Christmas cookies, and drive around to look at Christmas lights. Every year we engage in meaningful traditions that become warm memories.
If this, however, is your first Christmas post-divorce, you might wonder what to do about all those traditions? Keep? Toss? Create new ones? Why do we need traditions at all?
Every family needs traditions around the holidays. Yet, divorced families need them all the more. Why? Here are three reasons:
- Traditions provide purpose and meaning to your new family dynamic. Your children want to know that their new family matters just as much as their old family. Communicate this through meaningful, yet simple, traditions such decorating cookies together.
- Traditions give your children hope for the future. Traditions communicate to your kids that their new family will not only survive . . . it will thrive. You have overcome the turmoil and now you are living intentionally.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him,
so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
– Romans 15:13, NIV
- Traditions are fun. Chances are the months or years leading up the divorce were stressful. Then the divorce itself was painful. It is time to interject some fun into your new family structure. Show your children that life isn’t always sad, difficult, or troublesome. Life can be happy, enjoyable, and carefree too.
So what traditions should you keep and which should you toss? And how do you know when to create new ones?
Start by talking to your children. Ask them which traditions are their favorites: cookie baking, decorating the tree, looking at neighborhood lights, singing Christmas carols around the neighborhood, visiting the retirement center, etc. Remember, you are a part of the family too. You also need to voice your opinion and let them know your favorite tradition.
If Dad is not in the house anymore, then traditions such as Dad lifting the youngest child to place the star on top of the tree will need to go. You can replace that tradition with another tradition. This year ask the oldest child to climb a ladder and place the star on the top of the tree. Then find another equally important and exciting job for the youngest child.
As your children grow older they will want to create new traditions. Give them the freedom to do so. Remember, this is their holiday as much as it is yours. Help them participate in the memory-making.
For to us a child is born,to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
– Isaiah 9:6, NIV
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