3 Steps to Letting Go of Family Traditions and Embracing New Ones

  • Melinda Eye Cooper Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • 2021 31 Mar
old couple elderly grandparents looking at each other family background

Nobody prepared me for letting go of family traditions. To be honest, I really never thought that far ahead of my daily life raising a family.

But sooner than later, my first two sons were no longer little boys but had grown into men. My little family grew larger through marriage and we were blessed with two daughters-in-law.

The blessings are innumerable. Nothing compares to the added deep love the little grands bring when they’re born. Such sweet gifts from God. Truly, the cherry on top of the dessert of life.

With those wonderful family additions came other changes I never considered as my children grew up. Our family traditions changed.

It wasn’t just about our little family of five anymore. It became about the families of spouses and managing to work holiday celebrations around everyone else’s family schedules.

I was disheartened at first. It seemed my life changed so quickly and letting go of family traditions was more difficult than I imagined it would be. In the blink of an eye, it seemed, my little Christmas morning family celebrations were over.

Before I knew it we were left celebrating with the lone teenager left in the house as we watched him open gifts all by himself. He felt a little awkward and we realized we needed to make a change.

So, the next year, we opened all of our gifts on Christmas Eve with the whole family together instead of having a separate Christmas morning celebration with what’s left of the family at home. That way we could all sleep in… which is what teenagers love anyway.

It must happen as we grow older and move along the path of life. But a lot of things are harder than I thought they’d be now that I’m crossing that bridge I finally came to.

It hurts putting things into the past we want to keep in the present.

Through this season of life, I managed to learn a few things.

Here are 3 steps to letting go of family traditions and embracing new ones:

1. Go with the Flow

When the kids get married and move away, there are other family traditions to consider. We may discover the actual day of the holiday is no longer available for our get-together. While this can disappoint us because we’ve always celebrated on the actual day, we must be flexible and give and take with our new family members.

This is hard to do, I know. It might also be frustrating. Especially if we begin to feel our celebration is taking a backseat to everyone else’s in the family.

But we need to remember young families are beginning their own celebrations as a family. We did the same thing when we started our own family. We honor the next generation by going with the flow when it comes to family gatherings.

Eventually, we will get together – whether it’s sooner or later. Enjoy the time together and make the best of the situation.

These times are memories in the making.

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19

2. Let Go of Expectations

Some of our biggest disappointments in life come when we have unmet expectations. It’s like we sabotage our own life. We expect certain things and when we don’t get them, we become disappointed.

When we’ve been accustomed to celebrating a holiday a certain way and we’re unable to do it any longer, we can become disappointed. But we need to understand life will change year to year as we grow older and our traditions may also change.

They can actually become better if we’re willing to adjust a bit.

I’ll admit I was disappointed when we were unable to have an Easter egg hunt at the time I expected a couple of years ago. We ended up not being able to do it until it was dark outside. Needless to say, I had unmet expectations followed by disappointment.

However, we managed to have the Easter egg hunt in the dark using flashlights. Strange as it seems, it was one of the most fun times we’ve had as a family (They even make glow-in-the-dark eggs for just such an occasion these days!).

If we can manage to go with the flow and stay positive about schedules and expectations, we may discover new traditions born out of our need to make things work and they might be more fun and memorable.

For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100:5

3. Make New Memories

Since we can’t stop change from taking place because it is the order of things, we may consider making new traditions for the family. Once we accept the changes taking place within our family, we can move forward with creating lasting memories for our children and grandchildren.

If you remember a special tradition from a grandparent and loved it, recycle it and pass it on down to the next generation.

My mother-in-law always had a scavenger hunt for the grandchildren with little notes hidden in different places in the house. Our kids loved trying to find the prize. When our grandchildren get a bit older, we will absolutely recycle this tradition.

But if not, create some new ones. If you’re tech-savvy, check out the internet for ideas – because it’s loaded with them. There are wonderful ideas for making crafts or interesting games to play when the family gets together.

As life goes by, we may not have any plans for the actual holiday or even the week of the holiday. It’s time to consider new, satisfying traditions for ourselves. We can now do things we’ve always wanted to do but never seemed to have the time.

Here are a few ideas for making the most of those holidays when we get older and life changes:

  • Consider spending the holiday serving others at a homeless shelter or a local church serving meals to the less fortunate.
  • Make a meal (or dessert) for someone in your neighborhood or for a friend or relative you know is going through a rough time in life.
  • Intentionally seek God – asking Him to reveal a need you can meet for another person.
  • Plan a short vacation and enjoy time together with your spouse or a friend!

The most important tradition we need is to make sure we handle life changes well and honor God.

Our reaction to the ebb and flow of life as we age is in full view of the next generation. How we lived is an example for those family members coming after us. They may not understand any of it until they get older, but then they will see how God was reflected through our life.

Hopefully, they will seek the One who changed our lives, helped us get through our difficult days, and blessed us with a beautiful life.

Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation. Joel 1:3

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/OJO Images


Melinda Eye CooperMelinda Eye Cooper grew up in the Missouri Ozarks but lives near Nashville, Tennessee. She and her husband have three sons, two daughters-in-law, and three beautiful granddaughters – and a spunky dog named Lincoln!

Melinda writes articles and devotions. She also writes fiction and is currently working on a middle-grade fantasy novel. She grew up in a large family, and many of her devotions and stories are inspired from her childhood.

Visit her website here. You can follow her on Facebook here or Instagram here.




Follow Crosswalk.com