First 30 Days Blog

22 dec

Holiday Traditions: Family, Feelings and Festivities

JayForteTraditions are the passing on of customs and beliefs from one generation to another. At this time of year, there are many traditions that focus on celebration, fellowship, feasting, giving and receiving. It may be Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanza. It may be December 25th, January 6 or any days before or after. It may be with candles, lights, gifts or song. It may be with pageants, rituals, food or religious ceremonies. Regardless of the manifestation, the essence is the same – family, feelings and festivities.

Different, but the same

Many people are upset lately by the use of the phrase Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. Actually, Happy Holidays shows the awareness of and respect for the variety of holiday traditions that are celebrated this time of year – each meaningful, valid and right for those who celebrate them.

What makes our society so successful is its diversity. We are no longer a melting pot – where we have all blended to be like each other. Instead, we are now a tossed salad – together, but we maintain our identity and uniqueness. Our traditions are part of our uniqueness – they reflect our backgrounds, histories and perspectives. Our traditions help to keep us grounded, connected and happy. And whether we celebrate Dec 25, the week before or the week after, we celebrate with family and friends; we celebrate our feelings for each other – and we commit to the process of celebration.

When we accommodate and respect what and the way others celebrate, we actually learn more about each other; we better understand others and get closer to our own traditions. We are more connected as people.

The need to accommodate change

The second great thing about traditions is they evolve. Because people are influenced by life and today’s world, we constantly update our holiday traditions; we focus on their core meaning but change the way we celebrate them.

I remember the first Christmas after my parents divorced. The center of a close Italian family and its years of holiday traditions changed almost overnight. My brothers, sisters and I were determined to reinvent our celebration of family, feelings (because we’re Italian I’ll add “food”) and festivities and created a new manifestation of our Christmas Eve traditions; we created our “sibling party.” Though my five siblings and I are close, we committed that for at least for one night in the year, all six of us and our partners/spouses and families, would get together and celebrate the family, food, feelings and festivities that had always been so important to us. We maintained some of our prior holiday traditions and added some new ones. We stayed focused on the reason for getting together and rebuilt our (new) holiday traditions around it.

And as our kids start to meet their significant others and become part of another family as well, we will modify our traditions again. But the essence of our traditions is family, feelings, food and festivity. And if we need to create it in June instead of December, then June is just fine. If we need to host it on New Year’s Day instead of Christmas Eve – then we do. No complaints. No lamenting. No whining. We keep the spirit of our traditions intact – the date, time and place will move as life moves.

So, what is the real reason behind your traditions?

How do you keep the meaning of your traditions alive, as your family changes, grows up, moves out and moves on, and not allow these changes to undo what is important?

How do you work with life’s changes to keep adding more value to your traditions, share their meaning with the next generation and love the event, whenever and wherever it is?

What will you do to keep its essence clear and alive in a world that constantly changes?

“Christmas (Holiday) gift suggestions: To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect.” 
~ Oren Arnold

Wishing you “Happy Holidays” – a time for the celebration of your traditions of family, feelings, food and festivity. May they be extraordinary.

Jay Forte is a motivational speaker and performance consultant. He is the author of Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition and the on-line resource, Stand Out and Get Hired. He works to connect people to their talents and passions to work strong and live stronger. More information at

Posted by Jay Forte on December 22nd, 2009 in Family, New Directions, Things We Love | 0 comments Read related posts in , , , , , , ,

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