Sunday, December 17, 2006

Old and New Family Holiday Traditions… The Only Constant is Change

I am confident that one pearl of wisdom most of us frequently hear or think about is, “The only constant is change.” During the Holiday Season, this seems to ring loud. Sometimes it can seem that the faces at the Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner tables are never the same. This is understandable – some members of our family may move, get into new relationships or die; likewise, there also may be some new faces, such as those of newborns and new significant others. And when the people change, so do some of the old family traditions.

I repeatedly have said in lectures, books talks and therapy sessions, family traditions play an important role in family relationships. And most of us would agree – many of them are neat (and fun). For example, in an answer to a Yahoo Canada question, “What are your favorite holiday traditions?” tnmomof2a, said, “We have a few, like, we all get to open one gift, always new PJs and wear them to bed. I have two girls, 4 and almost 2, and we make cookies for them to leave for Santa.” ( Interestingly, Rachel O said, “I know it’s Christmas when I hear Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’, Slade’s ‘Merry Xmas everyone’, Roy Wood and Wizard’s ‘I wish it could be Christmas everyday’ and The Waitresses’ ‘Christmas wrapping’. I also enjoy watching ‘Robbie the Reindeer’ on television, even though I've seen it every year for the last seven.” (

When talking about the extent to which tension can be a part of the Christmas experience, Ben said, “The tensions can be even greater in a blended family” (

In my self-help book, Adult Loving Relationships (, I discuss the sadness people can feel when their old family traditions are no longer around (because of realities I mentioned earlier) and how important it is to make the effort to start and create new ones. Not only is it good to do this for us – the adults in the family – but also for the children in the family. Remember, the “new traditions” we start today will be our children’s “old traditions.”

Felice Navidad! Bill


Anonymous said...

We watch "It's a Wonderful Life" every year. You can't help but feel good about everything by the time you get to the end of that movie.

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Hi GA Christmas Fan
Thanks for sharing one of your traditions (and I indeed agree, if a person doesn't feel uplifted and in the spirit of the season after watching "It's a Wonderful Life," they indeed have some serious issues going on.)
I hope Santa treats you well,