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Holiday Traditions are Important for Every Kid and Every Parent

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I’m one of those people who gets really into the holidays. I name the Thanksgiving Turkey and break out the old Christmas TV specials to watch with my family. Cookies and milk for Santa? Absolutely. To that end, I’m a big believer in tradition. I think it’s an important part of the holiday season especially and it’s good for kids and parents to recognize traditions together.

Some of my fondest memories as a kid are holiday memories. Hanging ornaments on the Christmas tree as a family. Being able to lick the batter bowl after my mom was done making cookies. Getting so full on turkey that I couldn’t move from the recliner until it was time to go Black Friday shopping. To this day, I cherish these memories and I always get nostalgic during the holiday season. As a dad myself, it’s a feeling I want to pass on to my kids. I want them to remember these times years from now and hopefully, carry on these same traditions to keep the spirit of the season alive with their kids.

But I also realize that traditions can be hard to keep, and not every tradition is a good one. It might not always be possible to have Thanksgiving at Uncle Carl’s house because he lives in Vermont now. We could probably go without the near-housefire that almost happens every year too! They’re traditions, true, but they’re not the ones that matter. It’s okay to let them go and instead, focus on the ones that leave a lasting imprint on us. And, it’s okay to adopt new traditions—especially when it involves my kids.

Last year my kids got to break the wishbone on Thanksgiving and stayed up until they couldn’t keep their eyes open, waiting to hear Santa on the roof. It’s memories like this I hope they reflect on fondly as they grow up. I hope they see them as part of the holiday experience—even if it’s not the same house or the same group of people. What matters in tradition is the magic of the experience.

For me as a dad, tradition is a way for me to pass on the uniqueness of our family to my kids. Some traditions are universal, but so many more aren’t. It’s up to me to provide my kids with experiences that stand out. Maybe it’s watching an obscure Christmas movie while eating caramel popcorn? Or helping grandma roll apple pie crust? Whatever it is, I want my kids to enjoy it and remember it as part of their holiday experience. I want it to become something they look forward to, and something that makes the holidays feel complete.

This is a season filled with nostalgia and magic, and a lot of that has to do with the storied histories of our traditions. Whether it’s observing long-held family traditions or participating in a few family oddities this holiday season, it’s important for kids and parents to embrace them. I firmly believe the holidays are made better by our traditions, new and old.

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