Two friends embrace.

Revive your holidays with new traditions

NOV 07, 2018
  • Share this:
  • Linkedin

Honoring a special tradition can be one of the most joyful parts of the holiday season. But sometimes we can outgrow family traditions or find them too stressful to enjoy anymore. While this may be sad, it’s also an opportunity to create new traditions that will make the holidays brighter for everyone.


Recognize when it’s time for a change

There are plenty of reasons why a holiday tradition may start to lose its appeal. It often comes down to the way people and circumstances change over time. For example:


  • Your children are growing up. Traditions that were fun when they were little may not hold the same appeal as they approach adulthood.
  • You’ve adopted a new, healthier lifestyle. Whether you’re eating healthier or giving up alcohol, certain traditions may now leave you feeling uncomfortable or left out.
  • You lack time or money, or both. If you feel like you can’t afford to keep a tradition going, it might be time to stop.
  • You or a family member has a nasty bug. The flu, a bad cold, or other winter bugs could leave you too worn out for holiday traditions.
  • Your family has experienced an emergency or loss. Sometimes difficult events can strike during the holidays, making some traditions feel sad or inappropriate.

Decide what works and what doesn’t

If your holiday traditions feel more stressful than fun, consider whether it’s time to replace them with something new.


Ask yourself why you follow certain traditions. Talk with your family about how they feel about them. If there’s a general lack of enthusiasm, explore how those traditions fit into your holiday values.


After talking it out, you and your family can decide whether to maintain a tradition or come up with a new, improved idea.


Put a new twist on an old classic

Sometimes all you need to do is update an old tradition.


Kaiser Permanente psychiatrist Jennifer Whaley, MD, appreciates everything about Christmas. She and her family especially love wrapping gifts with exceptional artistry and care. But while they enjoy gift preparation, they’re not fond of the materialism that often comes with the holidays.


“I think the first question you have to ask yourself is the ‘why’ — why are we doing what we’re doing,” says Whaley. “And when things aren’t working, are you willing to change?”


So, Dr. Whaley is taking a different approach by asking for experiences instead of things. This could mean cooking dinner or going to a movie together, or anything else that feels right. To keep the tradition that matters most to the family, she’s asked them to wrap up their plans, recipes, and tickets just as elaborately as they would a traditional gift.


Empower your family with meaningful change

While you may feel pressured to keep honoring traditions that no longer work, there’s nothing wrong with examining better options for you and your family. As Dr. Whaley shows, you don’t even have to give up on traditions altogether — you can just update them to bring your family more holiday joy.


“Try a new path,” says Whaley. “That’s a good way to approach most things in life — not just the holidays.”

TOPICSHealthy holidaysMental Health and WellnessNew traditions