Whether we are honoring traditions from our past–those created through the generations by other family members or even ourselves—or creating new memories–symbolic rituals, traditions, and habits remind us of something deeper; our connection to one another.
Traditions often come with stories–of their creation and their creators. Rituals , traditions, and the passing on of stories have been around since the dawn of Man and across cultures. And although at this time of the year–the holiday season–I am referring to family traditions and routines more so than exclusively spiritual or religious rituals and traditions, the biggest parallel is a reminder of CONNECTION.
As a former family therapist, an intuitive, and someone who has now worked with family members on both sides of the veil for a decade, I can say with certainty that one of our society’s biggest problems is the loss of connectedness–within the individual and outside the individual as well. A loss of a sense of connection can bring on feelings of isolation and depression. It can increase substance abuse and self-neglect, and in more severe cases even lead to actions of self-harm. We have mistakenly perceived our increased technological connectivity as being more connected, when the reality is that increased technological advancements have brought about a decrease in authentic connections and meaningful bonds for humanity.
For some in the younger generations, the popularized apathy toward spirituality and religion combined with fragmented familial connections bring about a sense of feeling lost, or adrift and aimless. Now more than ever people-young and old alike–need an anchor-a rock–on which they can lean. When there is no spiritual faith, and no reliable or caring family member, where does one turn? Having friends, co-workers, or even distant family members who carry on yearly (or even weekly, monthly, etc) traditions is a source of comfort. It can feel like coming “home”.
Unfortunately it’s true that some of us do not have family members with whom we can easily connect. Many of us have nearly our entire family on the Other Side, or we have lost our connection due to family members abandoning the family, abusing substances, or any number of reasons. But it’s never too late to reconnect if it feels right–or to create tighter bonds and traditions with friends, co-workers, neighbors, and others. Traditions are comforting, often fun, and always bring a sense of connectedness. Traditions can be as simple as where or how we gather for an occasion or special date, the food we create or bring, the prayers we say, a song we sing, or the stories we share. Many families create new traditions to honor those who have passed on in a certain way. It could be a family trip to the cemetery, special holiday ornaments created as a family, and so on. The possibilities are endless.
In an era where technology has created an increased but false sense of connection, I encourage everyone to make an increasing effort to reach out to family, friends, and neighbors. We need one another. I am a strong advocate for family dinners, a game night, or just familiar routines for a sense of rhythm and connectedness within a family. Connection heals.
Wishing everyone a special holiday season filled with traditions–old and new.