Whatever you celebrate during the holiday season, you probably have a tradition (or two) that you and your family do to celebrate togetherness. Baking cookies, driving around to look at beautiful light displays, putting on matching PJs to watch your favorite Christmas movie while slurping down delicious hot chocolate. These are just to name a few of the many traditions I have heard from families over the years. Of course there are countless traditions out there that are specific to each family, but have you ever stopped to appreciate the deeper importance of your tradition?

As a people, we are busier than ever and our attention is pulled in numerous directions. Between school, work, extracurriculars, television and even our phones pulling for our attention, keeping family traditions alive is more important than we realize.

Traditions around the world have long been recorded throughout history. Why are they so important? They are ritualistic behaviors that foster deeper relationships with friends and family. It is time we carve out of our busy schedules and turn our attention solely to the ones we love and care for. They make us feel loved, important and give us a strong sense of belonging to our family and community.

Holiday traditions don’t have to be elaborate or planned out weeks in advance, even simple moments can be ritualistic and meaningful. Here are some simple traditions that can have a big impact:

  1. Read The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve.
  2. Create your own advent calendar with food or craft supplies.
  3. Pay tribute to family who are gone by lighting a candle or making their favorite dish.
  4. Let the kids pick out an ornament every year.
  5. Watch the same holiday movie every year as a family.
  6. Have a gingerbread decorating contest.
  7. Take a themed trip to the library to read holiday books.
  8. Create your own ugly Christmas sweater with bows, ribbons and other holiday supplies.
  9. Make Christmas morning breakfast together.
  10. Take the same family Christmas photo every year (they will be so fun to look back on!).

Whatever tradition you decide on, how big or small, don’t stress over making it perfect. The decorated cookies might turn out like icing mountains covered in sprinkles (that’s how my kid’s do it) or the tree you decorated with your kids may not have every ornament in the right place (don’t worry you’ll fix it later). Traditions aren’t about perfection, they are about precious time. Be in the moment and make sure you pause to appreciate this time spent with family, friends and community. And who knows, your love for traditions may branch out to the rest of the year!