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Traditions outside the box

By It's My Life on December 17, 2010 12:03 PM | No TrackBacks

If you look up the word "tradition" in the dictionary, you see words and phrases like "handed down," "long-established," "continuing," and "popular." We know, that's kind of a duh.

But we were noodling on the idea of traditions and how this is the time of year where they're everywhere that we may not even think about them. Santa Claus and the Christmas tree and New Year's party hats and giving gifts. We love these traditions, and can't imagine the holidays without them, but sometimes it's a little too easy to forget what they mean to us personally (if they mean anything at all).

That's why our favorite traditions are the ones that are different and unique and maybe even totally silly or weird. You know, something you do every year as part of a holiday that's special to your family, or to your group of friends, or to your school or place of worship, or just to you. For instance, one family we know has a "Crazy Christmas Sweater Party" where invitees are encouraged to wear the wackiest holiday gear they can find. Another hits the drive-thru for milkshakes on Christmas Eve and then takes a drive through their town to see all the decorated houses. And another makes a betting pool to see who can stick to their New Year's resolution the longest.

Why are these types of traditions extra-meaningful? Well, they help remind us of what's unique and special about our families, our communities, and ourselves. They give us a sense of connection from year to year and season to season, and help us feel like we have a good solid foundation in a constantly changing world. Plus they're fun, and they're something we can pass on. 

Do you have an out-of-the-ordinary tradition you'd like to share? How did it get started and what do you like about it? Tell us on our new You Said It page for Holiday Traditions!

If you don't feel like you have a tradition like this, but would maybe like to start one, here are some ideas:

Family Traditions
Everybody contributes a certain amount of money to buy toys to donate. Go for a walk, run, or hike together. Everybody writes down the one thing they hope to accomplish in the coming year, then take a picture of the family holding their signs. Choose a traditional "dish" to make on Christmas or New Year's...maybe something unconventional like tamales, lasagna, or fruit salad. Have a game night where everyone plays for special prizes.

Friends Traditions
Arrange a toy, book, or clothing swap with your best buds at the end of every year, so you can start the new year off with fresh stuff. Write your friends cards or letters thanking them for their friendship, and reminscing about the fun you've had over the past year. Have a challenge to see who can give the tackiest, goofiest gift.

Personal Traditions
Write a letter to yourself, predicting what will happen in the year to come, then seal it up to be opened the following New Year's. Buy a meal's worth of non-perishable grocery items to donate to a local food pantry. Go through your closet and pull out anything you don't wear anymore or are ready to let go of, then give it away to a sibling, relative, friend, or charity. Put together a photo album or scrapbook that will commemorate your life at this moment.

You may even have a unique tradition already that you don't even think of as a tradition...but still, you do it every year and without it, you'd feel like something was missing! Here at IML we hope all your traditions, big and small, common or uncommon, bring you closer to the things you love most this year.

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