Traditions build connections

It is through our traditions that we build and strengthen connections with loved ones. Holidays (and other milestone dates) can be equally as joyful as they are sorrowful. It can seem easier to try to avoid these dates, but they come and go whether we choose to engage with them or not. The thing is, choosing to connect with the event/date/day can be comforting and help us move beyond the pain, if we let it.

Building traditions strengthens our connections

That’s one of the best things about traditions, if we build them with our loved ones and connect with those rituals, we will always have those traditions to draw from in times of need. That isn’t to say that there is never pain associated with the memories, but the pain will give way to the love, joy and the connection we share(d) with others when we continue to carry out those customs.

“Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.”
― Gustav Mahler

Whether it be, birthday cakes with coins baked into them; stockings filled by Santa, left at the foot of the children’s beds and opened on Christmas morning; New Year’s Eve spent with family, playing board games and listening to the latest music gifted to us; or birthday meals of the honored guest’s favourite foods, shared with family and friends… it can be easy to focus on the loss of loved ones, or the days gone by, and become overcome by the grief associated with that loss. Sometimes that is exactly what our hearts need. For a time.

Whether it comes after the sorrow, or with joy, these rituals can also be the best way to remember and celebrate lost loved ones, or times of the past (indeed, even another lifetime). They can also be a great way to connect our present to our past and to our future.

Traditions connect generations

When my girls were young, we continued traditions that had been a part of my childhood, and my parents’ childhoods. We also started new traditions that belonged to us alone, especially after their father and I split up and we began a tradition of shared, yet divided, time together. I wanted them to feel as loved as ever, and to know that life goes on, even in a new form. But I also wanted to create memories that would be connected to nothing that caused any of us pain. We built new traditions of our own, while also honoring some long-lived customs of our families’. We found a balance that meant our holidays always felt special. And as they’ve grown and moved into the beginning of their adult lives, they take many of those traditions with them, and will start some new ones of their own.

Mindfully carrying out traditions

Some days I find myself engrossed in vivid memories of my mom, brother & sister rushing with me to see what was under the Christmas tree, as my dad observed from within – camera at the ready, capturing those looks of pure delight on our faces. At other times, I carry out the motions without a conscious thought about why they are so special to me.

I used to feel guilty about the times that I wasn’t feeling up to or even conscious of not taking the time to honor and cherish the past. But I’ve come to realize that not only is it part of the process of life to move on and make new memories, it is also how our psyche survives – and thrives. Just as allowing those memories to flood our minds and hearts when they come can be.

Whether it’s taking time to remember the loved ones who made cherished ornaments for the tree as we decorate for the season, or those who gave us gifts or baked goods, by making some of those very recipes to share with those of us who carry on… traditions bring stronger connections to those around us, those before us, and to those yet to come, by sharing in them right now.


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About Trish

family legacy curator, social justice advocate, blogger, amateur photographer, reader, cyclist, runner & swimmer, mom of two