Christmas traditions are wonderful aren’t they?
Especially those lovely old fashioned family Christmas traditions passed onto kids as toddlers and still strong when they’re teens, so as adults they pass them on – mingled with other families’ Christmas traditions from round the world – to their own children.
But you know what?
Too many Christmas traditions we hectically share on social media these days ARE stinkers.
I mean, I don’t have head space at Christmas to pop an elf on a shelf in some competitively comic position to share daily on Facebook.
Or will power to shove together a constantly collapsing gingerbread house kit that will unsurprisingly ne’er be eaten after several hours of mauling into a misshapen mess.
And much as I love the Nutcracker, I really don’t need to fork out to see it again, any time soon.
And NO I don’t want an ugly sweater because we already have a house crammed full of clutter we never use from one year to the next and they’re just another excuse to separate me from my hard earned cash and open the door to the cold blast of New Year debt.
BAH HUMBUG to the lot of them, I say!!!!
But not because I’ve become a Christmas hating Scrooge in my old age with a downer on Christmas traditions of all sorts.
But BECAUSE I want and need so much more from my Christmas traditions. Lots, lots more.
More Truly Meaningful Christmas Traditions
Christmas traditions are meant to mark time.
They should connect us as a family to the passing of seasons and cycles of life on our wonderful planet. Nurture memories that tie us to the past and give us stories to share the light of hope with future generations in dark times.
True Christmas traditions should bring meaning. They should help us believe there is more to life than me.
And no dodgy pullover mass produced in sweatshop conditions, goodness only knows where and shipped round the world in a great cloud of pollution can do that for us.
We all need to reclaim some lovely old family Christmas traditions that are deeply meaningful in their powerful simplicity.
Christmas traditions, that weren’t dreamt up in a money grabbing marketing department and don’t require bottomless pits of time and cash.
So here are my suggestions for 10 simply lovely Christmas traditions to celebrate and pass on. Take them, work with them, weave your own family stories through them and truly enjoy together sharing the light in the dark passing of the old year and the birth of the new.
10 Simply Lovely Powerful Christmas Traditions
1. Walk In A Winter Wonderland
Hit your nearest wood or forest for the day as a family. Scuffle through leaves, hide among trees with their bare arms raised to the winter sky, feel the forest breathe and gather up pine cones, holly and fir tree branches – or whatever grows near you – to make the simplest of natural Christmas decorations.
Then find one large log to take home.
2. Mark The Winter Solstice
Mark the shortest day with a bonfire, burning the log found in the woods as a yule log to celebrate the new light that will come.
Don’t let the log burn through. Keep it safe and next year light the solstice fire with the remains of last year’s log and remember the light in our lives never truly dies but is passed down through the years and the generations.
3. Light Candles For The Passed
The marketing magicians have stolen and corrupted our festival of remembrance on October 31st for all those who have passed away, so start a new family tradition this Christmas to find a quiet time to light old candles together to remember loved ones.
4. Plant Trees For One And All
Our annual harvest of pesticide polluted Christmas trees aint exactly great for the planet but imagine the simple power of each of us planting one tree every Christmas. Here in Britain, that would be 66 million new trees. Every year. It would transform the world.
So don’t spend your cash on an ugly Christmas sweater or other job destroying, mass produced plastic clutter, plant a tree.
5. Gift A Memory
Pass on to someone else something of yours you know they will enjoy. Something tired and worn but rich with shared memories and joy.
It could be something as simple as a dog eared paperback, a battered teddy or a chipped cup. Something that connects you together more deeply than a hundred glistening gift boxes of new bought clutter ever could.
6. Play Soccer With Enemies
On Christmas Day in 1914 British and German soldiers in the trenches declared their own truce and played football with each other. The British and German governments continued that horrifically brutal war for another 4 years but on that day ordinary, supposedly unimportant men reached out across the bitter divide and shared their common humanity.
If every year we honour that tradition to reach out and do something good together with the “enemies” we have spent the rest of the year fighting, we will not banish the darkness forever but we will keep the light of forgiveness and reconciliation burning.
7. Sing Carols With Neighbours
I cannot sing a note in tune but the joy of singing together old songs passed down out of long forgotten times is surely as essential to humanity as the dawn chorus to the birds.
So get together one night and sing carols. Don’t make it complicated – we don’t need speakers and fancy lanterns and meetings and endless messages to coordinate, just someone who can strike a note, vaguely, to lead off and a few crumpled song sheets to share.
As we sing out the words of O Come All Ye Faithful and the like to our children we give them the gift of a connection with all the other children who for near a thousand years have sung the same words at Christmas time.
8. Share The Old Stories
Put aside a few hours to sit together as a family and read out loud A Christmas Carol or watch It’s A Wonderful Life as you peel veggies.
Both stories were dreamt up by the marketing magicians of their age but the common tale of redemption that they tell has stood the test of time for good reason. We are not doomed by the selfish and greedy and lazy and cruel things we have done in years past. We can start the New Year afresh and in so many wonderful small ways be a powerful force for good.
9. Send Sorry Cards
Christmas traditions from around the world have mingled and merged across time. Newcomers from Victorian Britain are mixed up with old, old festivities from Scandinavia and the Norse and even more ancient ideas from the old Roman celebration of Saturnalia and its tradition of asking forgiveness from those we have wronged before the end of the old year.
So if you’re exhausted even by the thought of huge piles of Christmas cards and rummaging through cupboards to find long lost addresses, then start a much simpler tradition to just send a card to those people to whom you most need to say sorry.
10. Go To Church. Any Church.
Go to church whatever your faith. For carols or midnight mass or any service telling the story of a new born child who asked us to love one another and to seek forgiveness and to forgive.
You don’t need to believe in a god or any god.
But we ALL need to believe in the power of love and forgiveness and, however low it may sometimes burn, the unquenchable light of human goodness born in every child.
Renewing each year, our belief in the light of love, is the most simply powerful and lovely Christmas tradition of them all.
I so hope you find peace and joy with your family in your Christmas traditions this year and start the year afresh with new hope for the future.
If you’re looking for more inspiration for a simpler, lovelier Christmas do read these:candle, snowflake, family.