Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, but I’ve been thinking a lot about holiday traditions.

My family had them by the gross when I was a kid. Cutting down our own Christmas tree, listening to “The Partridge Family Christmas” on an endless loop from Thanksgiving to Christmas, pizza and board games on New Year’s Eve — all of the little images that joined forces to make a holiday, and a memory.

I’m 45 now, and lately I’ve been worrying about whether we’re making meaningful holiday memories that our 10-year-old daughter will carry with her. Call it a midlife Christmas crisis, I guess.

And then my wife said something the other night that I’d never thought about before.

“How do you know we’re not making those memories?”

How, indeed?

How do I know that, years from now, our daughter isn’t going to look back on all of the things we do every December — my wife’s annual Christmas party, the trips to see the Tilles Park Christmas lights, picking out the perfect tree at the Kirkwood Farmer’s Market — and say, “We had such cool holiday traditions?” 

We make an impression without even trying, don’t we?

  • The fun things we do during the holidays become traditions that our kids carry forward.
  • When we smile, the world smiles back.
  • When we treat others with trust and respect, they treat us the same way. Then they pay it forward.
  • Our decision to act ethically eventually becomes a habit that sets the tone for everyone else in the office.

“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change,” Mahatma Gandhi once said. “As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him.”

Everything we do, good and bad, is watched and emulated by someone else — our kids, our families, our co-workers. If we do more good stuff, we’ll see more good stuff.

Corny? Sure. Cliche? Absolutely. Syrupy-sweet? You bet.

True? Without a doubt.

Be nice. Do the right thing. Smile. Put on the Partridge Family while you trim the tree.

Why? Because someone else is watching.

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