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The University of Alabama

UA Matters: Easy Holiday Traditions to Start With the Family

Kelly Avery

Kelly Avery

Traditions are beliefs, customs or practices that you do again and again to signify a specific purpose. A tradition can be big or small, but it differs from daily activity and carries a meaning. Along with giving children the sense of togetherness by bringing everyone together for a tradition, it will be something you can watch as it is passed down in your family for generations to come.

The University of Alabama’s Kelly Avery shares a few simple traditions families can start this holiday season.

  • Bake – Bake a special dish that is a secret family recipe or a dish that everyone enjoys. Do this as a family. As everyone takes part in cooking the dish, children will begin to feel the specialness of doing things as a family.
  • Volunteer – Go serve the local soup kitchen or take meals to the needy in the community. Doing this as a family will give your children a sense of togetherness while learning compassion during the holiday season.
  • Holiday Story – Pick a book from your childhood or a story that has been passed down from generations before, sit around a fire or a dinner and share the story. Taking time to read or tell stories of past time with your little ones this holiday will allow them to learn about what holidays were like when you were a child.
  • Movie night – Watch a classic holiday movie such as “The Grinch,” “A Christmas Carol” or “Home Alone” with the family. Children will love these movies, and, as they grow older, it will become a comedic relief with a sense of togetherness. Grandchildren will love this tradition, and it will be special to see grandchildren follow the traditions of your children.
  • Incorporate History – Look into your family history and origins and begin a tradition that celebrates your family’s heritage. It will not only serve as an educational experience for your children, but it will also give them a sense of pride of knowing where they came from and what traditions are special to your family.

The tradition itself doesn’t matter. As long as your family is coming together to celebrate the holidays, traditions are a simple way of sharing the joy of being together.

Avery is a curriculum specialist for the Children’s Program at the College of Human Environmental Sciences Child Development Research Center.


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The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.