Many of my childhood memories of the holidays contain idyllic mental images of traditions like trimming the tree, fireplace crackling, It’s a Wonderful Life, and a big pot of mom’s steaming Cajun gumbo on the stove.
Fast forward to my adult single years; take-out has now replaced family dinners, and Black Friday binge-shopping has replaced chestnuts roasting over an open fire. It's no wonder that, around the holidays, I become a little whimsical for more meaningful holiday traditions.
The fact is, countless articles and books have been written touting the positive benefits of creating family traditions. Research supports the importance of family tradition, indicating that children who experience or remember positive family traditions have greater self-confidence and exhibit less loneliness and anxiety.
But until I have my own family, why should I miss out? Here are 3 reasons why single people should create traditions right now.
1. Create Memories
A tradition provides that little extra something magical that pulls us out of our ordinary mundane rut and gives a rosy hue to our memories. The memories offer an opportunity to reconnect with our story and give us a sense of personal identity. Research shows that when we feel connected to our personal story, we have a greater sense of self-confidence and well-being.
Try reconstructing old family traditions to work in the context of your single life. For example, if Secret Santa was a staple family tradition growing up—why not host a Secret Santa swap amongst a group of friends?
2. Build Connection
In the book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” Steven Covey encourages making frequent deposits into the “emotional bank account” of significant people in our lives. That is, when we nurture the emotional relationship with those dearest to us, we create quality positive experiences that act as a “relationship cushion” during stressful times.
Traditions help us connect meaningfully with others. This could be as simple as sending a regular holiday card to your friends, reminding them why they are significant in your life.
3. Get a Grip
Life is full of transition for all of us—moving to a new state, taking that new job, living off savings, starting new relationships— but our own personal traditions can be the compass to our wanderings. Traditions and rituals form an anchor to hold onto amidst the swirling-shopping, swanky-decorating, and sweet-eating frenzy that often takes hold of the holidays. Something as simple as drinking a cup of tea each Sunday afternoon and listening to Billy Joel would offer stability worthy of appreciation.
When it comes to traditions, I’ve realized that “go big or go home” needn’t apply. Even the simplest traditions can play a big role in shaping your holiday season. It may take a little thought, intentionality, and vision—but I want my single life to be full of holiday memories, don’t you?
(photo by Taylor McCutchan)