The holidays are a wonderful time to start rituals as a family. If you have a few you already practice, this read will give you some more to add to your list.
The extended time we have with our children over the summer holidays is a great opportunity to create family and holiday rituals. In his book, Ritual: How Seemingly Senseless Acts Make Life Worth Living, anthropologist Dimitris Xygalatas explains how rituals provide balm for our anxieties, encourage our connections with each other, and help us find meaning in our lives.
Our children depend upon rituals, too. In fact, rituals provide our children with an awareness of family identity and positive experiences that help them cope with stress. When we have rituals in our lives, we can draw upon those connective times and rely upon an internal sense of having a web of support rather than feeling alone.
Rituals also help our children develop a growing sense of themselves as a member of a greater whole which promotes positive developmental outcomes. Plus, rituals can be great fun!
If you need some ideas for creating rituals in your family, why not try these before the holidays end?
Craft (or Re-Craft) Cards Together
Repurposing holiday cards is a fun way to go back through the greetings your family received and extend the spirit of the season. Children can cut out pictures from the cards, and re-use ribbons, paper, wrapping and tags to create new cards and collages. These can be used as post-cards, posters or thank you notes for gifts they may have received themselves.
This low-cost activity not only offers children a way to creatively express themselves, but also provides practice with several fine motor skills. If your child is not yet writing, they can dictate their messages. Older children can learn how to make a homemade envelope and even practice writing the mailing and return address.
Sing Together or Compose a Song
Music is a powerful way to cultivate togetherness and belonging. When we sing (and dance!) together we build trust and empathy, while also alleviating stress. The holidays offer so many opportunities for creating music. Traditional carols and songs are a feature of holidays and celebrations. A fun idea is to gather different music-making tools, like different-sized bells or glasses with different amounts of water in them. Experiment with gently shaking the bells or tapping glasses with a pen or similar item to create a little melody. If everyone likes the tune, play around with adding some words to describe a funny part of the day, tell a story of the holiday, or share about a favorite food! You can make a song about your holiday to sing on family road trips. You can add rhythm, beats and movements with your body too. Click, clap, jump and twist to create fun and simple dance routines that go with your music.
Cook & Bake Together
Time in the kitchen is always a wonderful way to create some holiday memories. With extra time during days off, you can really revel in the experience of gathering ingredients, measuring, mixing, decorating, and even getting sudsy during the clean-up.
Young children might enjoy dipping pretzels or peppermint sticks in melted chocolate and then (before the chocolate hardens) twirling them in sprinkles. Or you have a favorite cookie recipe for the holidays. Your children can help make a batch and then package the cookies with a fancy bow to deliver to neighbors or to those working over the holiday (like firefighters, police officers, hospital staff, etc.).
Listen to or Share Stories Together
Storytelling captures our imaginations and transports us to other times and places. During the holiday season, we can create special moments when we come together and share stories, memories of past years or stories from our own childhoods. We can invite our children to share their stories, too! This kind of story time could be an opportunity to read treasured picture books aloud. Even older children will delight in the opportunity to revisit old favorites.
We can also create a scene like that of the days when families would gather to listen to a radio drama. Make it cozy and special with pillows, soft blankets, and special snacks. Bring the Alexa (or another device) to the center and listen to an audio story. Sites like Story Nory or Light Up Your Brain offer short pieces (roughly 5 to 10 minutes long) if you want to warm up to the story-listening experience!
Rituals are a significant part of our human experience and offer us ways to ground ourselves and form connections. As the holiday busyness subsides, let’s use these days together to connect with our children and create new family memories.
Please share some of your favorite rituals. We’d love to hear from you!