A magical thing about the holiday season is that we typically know what to expect. Year after year, we count on a program of events, meals and quirky songs that happen right on cue. Whether it’s the cupcakes your cool aunt makes after everyone opens Christmas presents, or simply knowing which family members will be at your mom’s house for the last night of Hanukkah – holiday traditions, whatever they are, stay close to your heart year after year.

But what happens when long familiar holiday traditions change? Whether it’s your sister getting married and trading off the holidays with in-laws, or your sweet grandparents passing, it’s sometimes hard to handle change with grace and without holding on to what was too tightly.

I’ve always loved my family’s holiday traditions. But as I’ve gotten older, along with the rest of my siblings, things have changed, majorly. We don’t spend our holidays where my parents grew up in Nashville. We stay in Texas. My baby brother is serving our country overseas and my other two siblings have families of their own to take into account.

At first, I felt all kinds of holiday resistance to the tinsel being pulled in different directions. I felt as if we no longer had traditions. Everything was different and left me thinking, “This. Is. Weird.” But then I realized that this was just change. This is life.

Maybe you had a similar reaction? Well, it’s up to each of us to keep the spirit of the holidays intact, with or without the traditions we’ve always known. After much contemplation, I came up with five ways to help you keep the holiday spirit, even when things are changing all around you.

1. Use this as a blank slate

Many of the traditions we hold so dearly are ones we were born into. When things change, you can see this as an opportunity to be creative and set new holiday traditions that are meaningful for you and your family. One of my favorite conversations in the Starbucks drive-thru with my mom was, “what do we want to do this year?” Ask yourself the same question. See this a positive time for new creation, rather than a time to regret what you’ve lost.

2. Stay connected to the important things

It’s called the holiday spirit for a reason, filled with warm cocoa, twinkling lights, and most importantly, the loved ones you’re surrounded by and the community that you’re a part of. This is a really special time to share your love with those who know you and those who need you. Remember that and any fading traditions won’t seem so deep.

3. Evolve

While you can use this time to create new traditions, you can also find a way to bridge what you loved into something new but still similar. When elements of your holiday traditions change, it’s okay to keep replicating the parts you love, even if it’s with things that are new and unfamiliar. This can give you the right amount of connection to the past while still being flexible for the present. 

4. Holidays 2.0

When I was a child, my family always went caroling, and while we don’t do that anymore, you can be darn sure that I’ll be singing Jingle Bells on FaceTime to my little brother who’s on a faraway Air Force base. We live in a very connected world. Integrate this into your new way of doing things when your traditions start to change. Whether that’s a Google Hangout with the family who can’t make it to town, or the FaceTime caroling that I’ll be doing, technology can be such a beautiful thing during this time of year.

5. Spread the holiday spirit

Helping others feel the holiday spirit is a great way to get yourself into the spirit too. There are tons of volunteer and charity opportunities you can take advantage of during this season. Making cards for our men and women serving overseas, helping serve meals for those who have less, or even purchasing a few gifts for a family in need are all great ways to spread the spirit of giving.

Bonus Points: Make volunteering a new tradition with family and friends!

There’s nothing easy about changing traditions, especially when they signify deeper shifts happening in your life. However, you have a choice about how to receive the change. During this magical holiday season, use some of these tips to keep the holiday spirit alive. 




Maxie McCoy

Maxie McCoy is the voice and red-hair behind MaxieMcCoy.com, the lifestyle blog where you'll find plenty of "me too!" moments.

As the Director of Local Levo for Levo League, Maxie oversees 30 cities globally focused on elevating the careers of women. She's also author of Less Work, More Money, an amazon best seller written for the entrepreneur at heart. Follow Maxie on TwitterFacebook or Instagram.

Maxie is a part of The Opener, an exclusive, invite-only contributor network that will bring the best food, culture and innovation writing to the pages of Coca-Cola Journey.