Holiday Rituals

by John E. Turner, LMFT and Sally R. Connolly, LMFT

Now is the time to renew or begin holiday rituals. There are so many wonderful reasons for developing and maintaining rituals, especially at this time of year.

Rituals Serve Many Purposes

  • Rituals connect people with each other.
  • Rituals, developed to be stress-free, create times to pause and recognize the history of the relationship.
  • Rituals create stories for children, families and couples to hand down over time. 
It is important to make sure that the rituals generate good feelings and do not zap energy and strength.

     Make them simple and keep them simple. Spending a lot of money or time is not the solution, a simple gathering is what is important.

In our family, we have an annual ritual with the grandchildren.  They spend the night, we put up John's childhood train.  We have the same breakfast with a contest for the "center" cinnamon rolls and end up at the candy shop.  The children look forward to it every year and want to make sure we never veer from tradition.

Suggestions for Holiday Rituals

We are going to suggest several holiday rituals for you and your relationships. We would love to receive comments from you about rituals that you have and appreciate.

  • At the Christmas dinner table, ask each person to share one story of this season that was especially meaningful for them.
  • Choose one or two simple food items that are a “must” for a dinner or breakfast. Keep them special for only this time of the year.
  • Have a ritual that is just for you and your spouse. Plan a holiday breakfast, a special day for shopping with a nice lunch in the middle, watching a special holiday movie AFTER the children are in bed.
  • Plan a gathering of neighborhood or close friends that involves something very simple such as exchanging cookies, bringing pots of soup to share or singing carols.
  • Make a scrapbook that is just about the holidays. Include pictures and a memory or two and look at them each year.
  • Have a family dance-along to “Rocking Around The Christmas Tree” or sing-along to favorite music. Fix eggnog and cookies and celebrate the occasion.
  • Recognize and acknowledge the losses of those who have played significant roles in your life in the past with a flower, a holiday ornament, a toast or a story.
  • Help out someone else. Sponsor a child or family from an Angel Tree or work in a soup kitchen. Do more than donate money, actually get involved in someone else’s life.