Christmas is a precious time for many of us. It’s about family, special relationships, home and sharing together, so clearly demonstrated by the numerous adverts that echo this message at this time of year.

A new couple, freshly starting out their lives together, may want to bring some of their familiar traditions with them; the people who must be invited, going to Christmas Eve carols, Midnight mass, the local pub before dinner, watching the Queen’s speech. All are cosy, reassuring ways to continue with family traditions and import an, ‘all is well with the world’ feeling.

But over time those delightful, comforting traditions may lose their efficacy, or there may be conflict between each one’s differing wishes. Having all the family round for Christmas dinner may lose its appeal as our own family grows, the work and expense involved increases and we want to do something different/easier/have a change.

Mayhem can occur when a change to tradition is suggested. It may be viewed as divisive in some families to suggest an alternative way to spend the day. But if your own family is expanding, growing up, moving away, not available it’s important to find other ways to maintain the bond.

And traditions do change. At one time many people didn’t eat meat on Friday. It was meant as a penance; doing without such a food staple was a sacrifice and had significance. At one time ‘everyone’ went to church on Sunday. These days modern life offers many alternatives to meat and doing without is a choice freely made by many every day. And Sunday Church is not so central to many families’ lives.

Many of our Christmas traditions have gradually evolved as more options have been required or become available. For some it’s easier to eat out on Christmas Day, sharing the effort and expense together. With more single-parent families, step-relations and people living away it’s become reasonable to select alternative days to have Christmas dinner together.

Yes, some Christmas traditions are retained with affection. Putting out a carrot, mince pie and glass of sherry for Father Christmas may be essential even years after he’s stopped calling. ‘We always decorate our tree, use these ornaments, visit the grave’ may remain integral to your Christmas, but letting some traditions go can help alleviate the stress and guilt others may feel if they’re torn between what they want and ought to do.

It’s important to keep the spirit of Christmas whilst letting traditions evolve. New traditions can emerge so ensuring you have a very happy Christmas!