I was frantic. It was Christmas Eve, and somehow, I had forgotten to buy the raviolis. I imagined the furrowed brow of my father and my mother’s disappointment if those we didn’t tomato-saucy rounds weren’t the crown of the holiday table. Heaven knows we just wouldn’t enjoy all the other stuff, like the frosted sugar cookies and sparkly gifts under the tree, without the raviolis. Frankly, it just wouldn’t be Christmas!
I had to save Christmas. It was my duty as wife and mama. But it was 3:00 p.m., then 3:52. Church started in one hour and 8 minutes, and I was in the Costco parking lot, stuck in traffic. Maybe nobody would notice. Maybe the soup and appetizers would be enough. I sat in the parking lot, doing my best to embody Christmas cheer when all I wanted to do instead was lay on my horn and scream.
And then, a question crossed my mind.
Why do we always eat raviolis on Christmas Eve?
We’re not Italian. It’s not grandma’s special recipe, and we don’t eat raviolis as a norm. I’m not sure anyone really likes them. What’s our family tradition all about?
Family traditions are beautiful. They are an outward expression of your family’s history and identity. The practice of family tradition facilitates stability, especially during events that can be highly emotional. But when traditions are practiced without intention and meaning, they morph into a source of stress. They become a “have-to” rather than a “want-to.”
Cue my harried frenzy in the Costco parking lot.
Finding meaning is soul-work. Meaning gives you answers to the life’s questions, and it helps you feel secure. From that security, you then authentically engage in relationship. Can you see how meaning is so important for your family’s authentic connection?
I’d like to issue a challenge this year: Decide to engage in family traditions that are meaningful. Doing so might take a little reflection and conversation, which is actually a good thing! Do that early, so that whatever your family decides, you can practice the tradition with intention and buy-in from everyone involved. This process is especially important if you’ve had changes in your family this year, such as a divorce or remarriage, or the death of a loved one.
Here are a few questions to get you started:
- Where does this tradition come from? Is the origin of this tradition still relevant to our family today?
- What is the feeling we hope to generate by this tradition? Is this feeling actually the outcome we get from practicing it?
- Is there another tradition we can establish that will help us achieve deeper, more relevant meaning in our family right now?
Decide to engage in family traditions that are meaningful for your family.
It’s okay to practice the traditions you have—and it’s okay to change them too! The bottom line is to move your family toward deeper connection with each other and with Jesus.
From my family to yours, I wish you a Christmas overflowing with the deepest meaning of the season. (P.S. We won’t be eating raviolis at my house this year.)
What is a family Christmas tradition you will practice this year? What meaning will this tradition generate for your family? Take a moment and post an answer below!