The holiday season is upon us and it is such an exciting time with so much to do! We get to see friends and family who travel long distances. We bake, cook and shop. We buy gifts, decorate our homes and attend parties…the list of holiday activities is long!
Yes, the holidays are a busy and exciting time that are full of family traditions. Through the ages, in primitive and modern societies, our customs anchor and connect us to each other. Rituals and shared practices are the glue that binds families and social groups together. Traditions form our group identity and give us fond childhood memories.
What happens if you are a new member of the family? Perhaps you are a foster youth participating in a family tradition that only makes you feel like an outsider. Maybe this is your first holiday season with your adoptive son but you realize that your traditions have no connection to him?
It is important to involve your adopted and foster child in your holiday traditions, so they feel included. Be sure to discuss how and why your family started each tradition and what it means to each of you. Ask your child how he feels about the holidays and discuss his own traditions. Then create new holiday customs that are meaningful to your newest family member.
Here is a list of ideas to help create new holiday traditions for your family:
- Make homemade gifts and cards to send to friends and family.
- Try a family baking day to make traditional favorites or find a new holiday recipe.
- Plan to watch your favorite holiday movie as a family or organize a family sing-a-long to your favorite holiday songs.
- Make your own holiday-themed family movie.
- Ask each family member to read his or her favorite holiday story aloud.
- Light a candle to remember someone special that you may miss.
Most importantly, make sure that everyone in your extended family is sensitive to the newest member of your family. Remember that holidays can be very unsettling for foster youth or newly adopted children and can result in feelings of grief, anger or memories of their past trauma.
Talking openly with your child about your customs, starting new traditions and understanding their feelings will help create a happy holiday season and new memories for your entire family.