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Christmas and Coronavirus: Why our traditions are more important than ever this year

2020 has been a very different year for nearly every person on the planet. And it can be very tempting to give into the Coronavirus dread and give up on Christmas this year altogether.

But, as much as we can, we should try to continue on with our family and community Christmas traditions, despite the difficulties. In fact, it’s because of our Coronavirus Christmas that our traditions are more important than ever. Here’s why.

Christmas Traditions Are More Important Than Ever

The Happiest Families Have Traditions

Research shows that the happiest families have strong traditions. These aren’t just limited to Christmas traditions, of course, but the holidays are a time when traditions come to the forefront of our lives a little bit more.

Why are traditions important? Traditions help us and our children make sense of life. They demonstrate where and what we put value and importance on. And they provide a sense of predictability and security.

But most importantly, traditions help us understand how we fit in the world. They provide us with a sense of belonging that keeps us focussed on our family and the values contained in that family.

This is especially important for our kids because this sense of belonging actually helps protect them from negative influences. In fact, a 2014 study of approximately 250 teens showed that family traditions played a protective role in the teens’ lives by helping increase social connectedness and reduce anxiety and depression.

Community Traditions Anchor Us to Each Other

There are going to be things that we aren’t able to do this year. In our area, Carols in the Park has been cancelled, and Santa photos are socially distanced. But wherever possible, embracing our community traditions is a great way to anchor us to each other, and bring back that sense of togetherness that’s so vital.

Traditions represent a critical piece of our culture. They form the structure and foundation of our society, and our communities within that society. They remind us that we are part of a bigger picture – a part of history – and when we ignore traditions, we’re in danger of damaging our basic identity.

This means continuing to drop cookies by for the neighbours. If they’re especially at risk, or simply cautious, take store bought cookies in a nice tin. This means visiting elderly relatives, or donating to the Basket Brigade. It means decorating your house with lights (if you did that previously) and driving around to see the neighbour’s lights.

Participating in the community Christmas traditions is not just good for you – it’s good for everyone.

Develop a Tradition of Gratitude

Sometimes it’s hard to find joy when we don’t feel joyful. And it’s hard to participate in a joyful, festive season, when we’re feeling sad or anxious about the world in general. If you’re feeling that way, try to implement a new tradition – a tradition of gratitude.

Gratitude is the shortcut to joy. In real terms, gratitude leads to greater wellbeing. Expressing thanks, even just to yourself, reminds you of what’s important and all the things you have to be thankful for. It’s not a perfect remedy, but making a tradition of gratitude – perhaps by keeping a gratitude journal – can help you find joy in the Christmas season and all year round.

Embrace Your Christmas Traditions

Rather than give in to the tough year, let’s embrace a Christmas that can give us some joy to counteract the stress and anxiety of 2020. Hold on to your traditions, celebrate them with abandon and strengthen your relationships with your families and your community.

Author: Di O’Malley – Founder and Managing Director of Young Minds Health and Development Network, and Counselling Psychologist.
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