Integrating the Holidays


This Thanksgiving was the first holiday I have spent without my family. Instead, I went to Illinois to spend the holiday with my fiancé’s family. I had a really great time, but it was a little hard learning other people’s holiday traditions while missing my family and friends back home in California. Tyler, my fiancé, did a great job integrating me into his family’s holiday, but the thing that I loved the most was starting our own traditions together.

Since Tyler and I are HUGE Auburn fans (we were both athletes at Auburn), we absolutely had to watch the Iron Bowl (Auburn vs. Alabama football game) the day after Thanksgiving. But, almost as importantly, I LOVE “Black Friday” shopping and it has been a tradition in my family to go shopping the day after Thanksgiving. Tyler was so amazing and said he would join me shopping, so I could enjoy my family’s tradition while being away from them. Because both events were on the same day we decided to start our own tradition: the “Black Bowl”!!! We went shopping at an Outlet Mall close to his hometown, and went to a restaurant to watch the game. It was really great and we were so excited to start our first holiday tradition as a couple.

If you are missing your family over the holidays here are some tips that might help you:

  1. Try to incorporate a tradition you have with your family in the place you are at and with the people you are with.
  2. Combine traditions! Just like Tyler and I now have the “Black Bowl,” start a new tradition by respecting each others’ personal practices and keeping them alive in a new way.
  3. Talk to your family. You can call, text, e-mail, or Skype your family from just about anywhere! It may make you sad, but it is important to fit your family into your holiday.
  4. Switch off where you celebrate holidays. This year we spent Thanksgiving with Tyler’s family in Illinois, and we will spend Christmas at home in California with my family. Next year we will do something similar.

According to Imam Hasan and George Handzo, holidays are “events that keep us connected to this most important community and reinforce our identities as members of a greater whole” (Hasan & Handzo, 2008). They also go on to say things that impede our ability to connect to our families, can reduce our sense of being a part of the family. So, it is important that you keep family traditions alive, and stay in contact with friends and families over the holidays. Friends and families are one of the most important and exciting thing about the holidays, cherish it.

Hasan, I., & Handzo, G. (2008). Anniversaries, holidays, and other reminders. Disaster spiritual care: Practical clergy responses to community, regional and national tragedy (pp. 186-195). Woodstock, VT US: SkyLight Paths Publishing. Retrieved from PsycINFO database.

-Julianne McLane


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