As your parents’ age, you may find it challenging to keep family traditions alive. But there are many reasons to maintain old traditions as well as creating new ones.
Traditions are more than just what you do during a specific holiday. The most valued family traditions often include many smaller events throughout each year. When we recognize their importance, they make your loved one’s lives hold extra meaning as they grow older.
Maintaining Traditions During Holidays
Holidays are traditionally a time for family, food, and celebration. An essential part of what makes each holiday special is the specific activities handed down from one generation to the next. These traditions help build strong family relationships and can promote healthy ties between family members.
- Family: Whether due to work or school commitments, location, or just conflicting schedules, holidays are often the only time all members of a family can be together in the same room. Traveling to be present at a family gathering can help build a stronger sense of connectivity, providing memories that last for years.
- Food: Think of the last time you enjoyed your favorite holiday cookie. Chances are it ‘took you back’ to that moment almost immediately. That’s because a family meal is an extraordinary sensory experience, aiding in the creation of treasured memories. The smells and tastes associated with a particular holiday meal are often triggered days or months later, creating an enjoyable reminiscence of the occasion for everyone involved.
- Celebration: Holidays gatherings are an opportunity to catch up on events in each other’s lives, deliver news of upcoming events, and generally get caught up on all the happenings in your loved one’s life. Making it the perfect time for many families to share in the celebration over a new job, announcing an engagement, or telling grandparents-to-be the happy surprise.
Holiday get-togethers can also include unique decorations such as a tree, eggs, flags, or candles. Setting up the decorations together can be as exciting as any other part of the holiday. Activities such as watching a favorite movie, or making special snacks and desserts can also flourish into cherished family moments.
Maintaining existing traditions as your loved ones age can take some creativity. If your parents now live in a senior living community, you can bring the traditions to them, even if it is in an adaptive form – use a small artificial tree with pine chips around it to provide a holiday smell and look, bring favorite foods associated with the holiday when you visit, or watch televised national celebrations together.
Smaller Customs & Rituals
Many other activities can also become family traditions, such as a big Sunday dinner, going to the movies once a week, visiting a specific spot during the same time each summer, or even giving a gag gift on the anniversary of a special occasion. Grandparents often have special traditions with their grandchildren, such as spending time together on each birthday.
Your parents may need a little help in maintaining traditions like these as they age. To ensure they have access to the supplies or assistance they need, take note of any cherished things they do each year and look for ways to support them.
Creating New Traditions
Traditions evolve as families and circumstances change. To find ways of creating new traditions and helping to make new memories as loved ones age consider activities such as:
- Organizing photos into albums. Going through old photographs together and enjoying the memories they provide – while doing some organizing and condensing boxes of pictures into neat albums – is a wonderful way to spend time together. Once you’ve completed that album, you can extend the tradition by adding a monthly visit to leaf through the photos together and write down memories associated with each one.
- Having a weekly or monthly lunch together. If the traditional Sunday dinner is no longer an option, you can make a new tradition that allows you and your loved one to enjoy great tasting food together. Create some excitement while expanding your palate and discovering exciting new flavors by trying new types of cuisine at each luncheon. Coming together over a shared meal creates powerful memories and deepens personal connections.
- Picking a show and watch it together. Finding a common interest can help you relate across generations. With so many new remakes of familiar older television shows being produced, watching both versions and comparing them can help you and your loved one relate to each other and find common ground.
For added impact, consider lighting a scented candle and choosing a flavorful snack to amplify the sensory memories creating special moments that survive from episode to episode.
Traditions can provide enjoyable experiences that create shared memories for both the short and long term. By maintaining traditions already established, and creating new ones, you can continue to deepen relationships with your loved ones as they age.
If you’d like to know more about how Kensington Place Redwood City can help to maintain existing traditions and create new ones, schedule your personalized tour today.