intentional living

Ep 088: Getting Intentional with Holiday Traditions

December 12, 2018

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This time of year it sometimes feels like we’ve got things kind of backwards. We care so much about creating a special holiday and not missing out (you know, we all have FOMO) that we go way too far and end up trying to create such a special atmosphere, that it’s very not special. We go out of our way with our traditions, we stretch our schedules and budgets thinner than we are comfortable with just to make Christmas super special. It ends up ruining the special occasion we tried tirelessly to create! It’s like our traditions have become really overbearing. They start to feel really heavy and they’re not fun anymore. We have stopped looking forward to them. Traditions should not detract from the season. They should elevate it. So, let’s put our traditions under the light of intentionality and get back to what serves us and our families best in this season.




In This Episode Allie Discusses:

  • The ways our society has bent traditions backwards.

  • How you can choose and carry out intentional traditions that are good for your family.

  • Why it is important to view traditions as things that should bring joy to the holidays, not subtract from it.

Mentioned in this Episode:


Mom life. We are surrounded with the message that it’s the tired life. The no-time-for-myself life. The hard life. And while it is hard and full of lots of servitude, the idea that motherhood means a joyless life is something I am passionate about putting a stop to. I’m on a mission to help you stop counting down the minutes till bedtime, at least most days. I want you to stop cleaning up after your kid’s childhood and start being present for it. Start enjoying it. I believe in John 10:10 “that we are called to abundant life” and I know mothers are not excluded from that promise. Join me in conversations about simplicity, minimalism and lots of other good stuff that leads to a life of less for the sake of enjoying more in your motherhood. I’m Allie Casazza and this is The Purpose Show.


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Hey, lovely friend! So, this episode is Getting Intentional With Holiday Traditions. I title my own episodes and I really wrestled with the title of this episode just because the word ‘intentional’ is so overused. It’s like describing things in seasons, like how people say and I always say, “Oh, it’s just your season of life; Oh, if you’re in that season…” It’s kind of annoying and overly done, but there’s really no other way to say it.

I sat here for a few minutes just thinking about this episode and the title and I was trying to find a way to say “doing something with your holiday traditions” or “changing your holiday traditions.” There’s just no better way to say it than getting intentional with your holiday traditions. So sorry, saying the word intentional again and it’s so annoying. There’s really no other way to say it.

We are talking about that today. Taking our holiday traditions, putting them under the light of intentionality and asking ourselves, “What is this doing? Is this serving our family in the right way? Is this on purpose? Is this helpful? Is this pointless? Is this out of obligation? Is this running us weary? Is this intentional?” So, we’re going to talk about traditions today.

Alright, so this time of year it sometimes feels like we’ve got things kind of backwards. I know we talked about this last week a little bit in terms of simplifying Christmas, and presents, and with other people and all that stuff, so you haven’t listened to episode 87, go back and listen for sure. But we tend to just kind of get it wrong and have things backwards.

We care so much about creating a special holiday and not missing out (you know, we have that FOMO) that we go way too far and end up trying to create such a special atmosphere, that it’s very not special.

We go way out of our way with our traditions. We stretch our schedules and our budgets way thinner than is comfortable for us just to mark a special occasion, and then that ruins the special occasion, so it’s pointless.

Joshua Becker wrote once that “traditions should not detract from the season; they should elevate it” and I really love that. Well said, Josh, if you’re listening for some reason. Joshua Becker is amazing. I’ll link to his blog. You know, we like each other. We’re friends. We email a couple of times. I like him. He’s awesome. And he said that once in a blog post and it just really struck me. I mean that’s where it’s at. Traditions should not detract from the season. They should elevate it.

It’s like our traditions have become really overbearing. They start to feel really heavy and they’re not fun anymore. We have stopped looking forward to them.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever had the holiday season come at you when it feels like it just happened and all of a sudden it’s upon you. That one thing that you always do every year pops into your head and you feel that let down feeling of, “Oh, I’m going to have to go to that thing. I’m gonna have to do this thing. I’m gonna have to see this person.” This is what’s leading to adults dreading the holiday season rather than looking forward to it.

It just kind of ruins it for all of us. If we’re not looking forward to it, if we’re not enjoying it, our kids aren’t going to very much either, even if we give them an awesome Christmas. They can sense that. They can feel that. And it should be magical for all of us.

I did a little research and I found some pretty saddening stats. Apparently 69% of Americans said they would skip gift exchanges this holiday season if their family would agree to it. And then when they were asked what they like or don’t like the most about the holiday season, Americans’ top three answers about what they liked the least involved buying things. They said things like commercialism, materialism, financial stress, shopping and being in crowds all the time.

Basically we’re doing what we hate. And it’s kind of not shocking at all that we don’t look forward to it like we did when we were kids.

I feel like I’m mentioning Joshua Becker multiple times, but another quote of his just popped into my head that I share all the time and that is that “minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts from that.” You all know that I am all about applying minimalism and simplicity to our lives, not just our homes. It all starts at home, but then it spills over into everything.

Under that light, why are we doing this? It’s not right. It’s not creating joy. It’s not creating abundant life for our family. So, let’s apply minimalism to this, to our traditions. Let’s ask what’s intentional here? Let’s stop being the 69% that say, “I just wish that we could skip exchanging gifts. I hate this. I’m unhappy. I don’t enjoy the holidays because it’s filled with all the things that I hate.” Let’s say ‘no’ to that and let’s move forward in a more intentional way.


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Let’s talk about how you can choose and carry out intentional traditions that are good for your family. That you really look forward to doing every year because you’re not doing them out of obligation anymore.

Firstly, I think you need to know that you have permission to be super basic. I am giving you full permission to be a basic girl and keep it simple. You don’t need to over obligate yourself.

Here’s an example from our life. Our biggest tradition, the only one that no matter what we do this, is just baking sugar cookies. It is so simple. It’s so basic. But you know what? A handful of years ago when we weren’t being simple and we were giving into the more and more and more holiday season BS, we missed baking sugar cookies one year and Bella said something about it and she was really sad. What happened is that it had gotten lost in the hullabaloo of all the holiday overstretching and over obligating and it didn’t happen.

And we love it. My kids love it. They look forward to it. I look forward to it. It’s a win/win. Why did that get skipped?

It’s okay to just shove everything else completely to the side and say we’re stripping this down to its bare basics (because that’s what minimalism is about) and it’s okay to stay super basic and simple. Don’t look at Instagram and what all the other moms are doing and feel that FOMO, let that comparison win over. It’s okay to be super simple and just say, “What do we love to do?”

Even if it’s like, “Wow, you’re only tradition is baking sugar cookies? That’s ingenious. Way to go. You’re really killing the holidays.” You are because that’s what you love to do. That’s what your kids love to do. It’s okay if it’s super simple.

I mean there were years when I was so burdened and, like I said, so over obligated that baking sugar cookies with my kids didn’t happen, like that one year. Or it would happen, but it made me annoyed and stressed out and cranky with my kids. And it wasn’t an enjoyable process because of that. I was trying to do so many other things that it ruined our main and favorite simple tradition.

There’s an example to kind of inspire you. What do I mean? What am I talking about? How can you get kind of intentional in this way.

I think another thing you can ask yourself is what are the things that you and your family love and look forward to that might’ve gotten smudged out by stressful obligations. Ask them. Talk to your kids. Talk to your spouse.

What I hear a lot is that you, as the mom, want to simplify. And your kids have some pretty basic, simple holiday traditions that they want to do. But your spouse is really wanting to go all in, really wanting to go over the top and pushing back on you about wanting to simplify.

Talk to him. Pull him aside and ask him “Where is this coming from?” Don’t be condescending. But just like, “Hey, what’s the root problem here?” Usually when I help somebody dig into this, it’s usually the husband, and he’s feeling like the holidays are a time where he gets to spend more time with his family. He’s feeling a little bit guilty that he misses things and he wants to go all in because if he doesn’t, he feels like he’s not a good dad. I see mothers do this, too, especially working mothers.

If one person in the family is really feeling a lot of pushback to just simplifying and streamlining the activities and the traditions. Ask yourself or ask them, if it’s not you, “Where is this coming from? What’s the root cause? Why do you feel like that?”

I think the main point is in choosing what traditions are going to stick, what’s worth it to you, is just having that conversation with your spouse and with your kids. And if your kids are super little (good for you for starting early, by the way) but then just talk to your spouse. When your kids are old enough, you can ask them what’s going on and kind of reevaluate.

It’s okay to let a tradition die. It’s not going to ruin your kids’ lives if you used to have a tradition that was standing for years and years and years, and when you realize that it wasn’t serving you anymore, you dropped it. If you keep going, that’s going to ruin your holiday. That’s not good. That’s not what you want.

I think it’s so funny (and I’m talking to myself here too) how people will cling to something that is just not working for them because it’s something that they’ve always done and they have some kind of guilt or obligation around keeping that up.

The main thing to remember is just because your family has always celebrated the holidays in one way does not mean that that can never change. It doesn’t mean that you can’t shift expectations. You can be the first person to have a new idea and say, “Let’s do this instead.” Even when it comes to relatives and people that are outside of your immediate family.

And since basically 70% of us would rather not exchange gifts, if everyone agreed, you know your family might thank you for bringing that idea to the table.

It’s not about going way the opposite way and being against gifts and against tradition. I love both of those things and we have a lot of that in our holiday season in our house. But it’s about gifts that add joy to the holidays, not subtract from it. It’s about choosing traditions that add joy to the holidays, not subtract from it. Ask yourself, “What is the reason for this season for me and my family?” And then intentionally choose traditions that align with that.

So go! Get your butt out of here. Make a list. Figure out what that’s going to be for you guys.


This was an episode of The Purpose Show. Did you know there is an exclusive community created solely for the purpose of continuing discussions surrounding The Purpose Show episodes? And to get you to actually take action and make positive changes on the things that you learn here? Go be a part of it. To join go to

Thank you so much for tuning in. If you are ready to uplevel and really take action on the things I talk about on my show, and get step-by-step help from me, head to There are free downloads, courses, classes, and ways to learn more about what the next step might look like for you and to focus on whatever you might need help with in whatever season you are in right now.  

I am always rooting for you, friend!

See ya next time!

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