Traditions are so important. Not only are they rituals that can bring on the holiday spirit, but they also give your family a piece of you to hold on to when you are no longer able to join them around the table at dinner. My family lost my mother to cancer on October 25, 2011. It was a very unexpected and traumatic experience; there were only 8 weeks between the diagnosis and her death. She left behind myself and 6 other siblings, one of which was just 5 months old at the time, and my dad. People love to tell you that losing someone will get easier with time; but in my case, I have found that to be a total lie. Each holiday that passes seems to get more and more sad without her. This probably has a lot to do with the fact that I have children now as well.
I know that many, if not most, families usually have some type of traditions that they partake in during holidays, but I only really noticed after losing my mom that we didn’t have any. The first holiday season without her was especially hard, because everywhere I looked for a memory of her doing something in particular, I could never find one. I wanted so badly to recreate memories that we shared together, something I could pass on to my own children. But I realized that we just didn’t have any family traditions. That’s when I realized how important it is to create holiday memories, footprints for my children to be able to step into later.
I wish that I had the opportunity to go back and create traditions with my own mom, but we can’t change the past. I pray that I am able to follow through with traditions that are deeply rooted in my children and that they carry them on to their own families one day. I hope that I remember to not always be the one standing behind the camera. At the end of the day, the only things we have left of those we lost are memories, and at some point those memories become the most irreplaceable things you will attain in life.
Here are some ideas of family traditions that I have gathered to give other families the opportunity to make memories with their loved ones:
- Pick a pumpkin or tree together
- Dress up in matching pajamas and take a picture in the same spot every year
- Decorate the house with cutouts of all the family members’ hands in the house and add to it every year
- Make a special dish as a family
- Come up with a dress up theme each holiday dinner
- Instead of staying home for the holidays, rent a cabin
- Volunteer at a shelter as a family
- Pack bagged lunches and drive around the city handing them out to the homeless
- Skip store bought ornaments and make your own instead
- Watch the same movie every year
- Go to a parade
- Decorate cookies
- Put up decorations together