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PeopleStripes.org article

Trick or Treat : How Important are Holiday Traditions? (From the Kids)

Oct 04, 2022
Gracyn Nelson-Reid
GRACYN NELSON-REID is a senior at the University of Texas San Antonio. She is majoring in Biology and plans to attend graduate school in the field of Microbiology research. Gracyn has been immersed in personality type theory from the time she was born! Her mom is a certified MBTI® and MMTIC® professional who introduced type theory and type language to her children to help them understand and appreciate differences.
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In this series, From the Kids, we are excited to share the first article written by a kid who is now a young adult! Gracyn Nelson-Reid, a junior in university, shares what it was like growing up in a household that supported personality type differences and encouraged the use of type language. Here are her ghostly insights on type and family traditions around Halloween celebrations.

With Halloween just around the corner, my thoughts turn to holiday celebrations and how personality type awareness has helped ease my anxiety and potential for family conflict. I've grown up in a family that welcomed personality type differences, where we were taught to recognize and appreciate those differences. There are seven of us and we all have different personality types! Type played a big part in my upbringing.

Holidays are always celebrated with unique traditions that make my family who we are. There is one particular tradition that we look forward to each Halloween, even as all the kids become adults. Every Halloween, since I was a young child, my family makes a Halloween-themed dinner. Mom's philosophy was to try and get something "healthy" into our tummies before trick-or-treating and the impending candy binge. These yummy treats included witch finger sandwiches (made of peanut butter and jelly, cut into thin strips like fingers with a jelly dollop on the end to represent a bloody nail), mummies (hot dogs wrapped in layered strips of dough), brains (Rice Krispies treats in the shape of a brain and dyed pink), amputated mouths (apple slices to represent lips with marshmallows for teeth), ghosts (strawberries dipped in white chocolate), eyeballs (grapes), and blood (red Gatorade) to drink. While these treats may seem silly, as kids, it was our favorite holiday meal! Our mom would put in an incredible amount of effort to bring a smile to our face which speaks to her own type preferences, specifically her preference for Feeling.

We would have this Halloween-themed meal before we went trick-or-treating. It quickly became a yearly tradition and a meal we would crave to satisfy our Halloween holiday hopes. A couple of years ago, since us kids were getting older and we were no longer trick-or-treating, my mom decided to cancel the Halloween-themed meal, thinking we would no longer be interested. That year, there were only two of us who were under the age of 18: my younger brother and me. The absence of the meal that year didn't sit well with me. I wasn't sure why I was so bothered by my mom's decision, until I reflected upon my personality type preferences. I prefer Extroversion, Sensing, Feeling, and Judging (ESFJ). As someone who prefers Sensing, traditions and details are important to me.

In a world of chaos, I rely on these traditions as a constant in a sea of change. With traditions, I have something familiar to look forward to and the memories of past years bring a sense of security that helps to alleviate my anxieties and worries for the future. So, when my mom decided not to proceed with the tradition that year, I felt uneasy. That night as my silence deafened the room, my mom knew that I was feeling upset. Since she is an expert on personality type, she suspected it might be type related. After talking with me, she recognized that it likely had to do with stopping our Halloween dinner family tradition and my Sensing preference. I wasn't alone; my siblings who also prefer Sensing were feeling disappointed, too, as they love tradition as much as me. My siblings with an Intuition preference love the Halloween dinner, as well, but for different reasons; they are excited each year to add some new imaginative treats to the menu!

While traditions may not seem important to everyone, neglecting a family tradition may cause anxiety for some people. We count on the stability that these traditions bring to us. Around the holidays, anxiety can come up in different ways, so it's crucial to have a conversation with those close to you to lessen miscommunication and the potential for family conflict. I'd suggest, based on my experience, that you discuss your concerns around the holiday season, how traditions do or do not lend stability, and which traditions you'd like to keep or are ready to let go.

Not really a tradition per se, but certainly related to Halloween and type preferences, costume choice seemed to showcase our type differences in the family, too. For those of us who prefer Sensing, our costumes were typically practical and realistic, like being a cat, a laundry basket, or a common character, easy costumes to make or a premade costume to buy. Whereas my siblings who prefer Intuition often dreamed up something so imaginative that it was either impossible to make, impossible to find, or impossible for people to even recognize, like obscure television or Broadway musical characters!

All in all, I have fond memories of many Halloweens spent together as a family. One day my own children will get to experience the fun of our ghoulish meal, a tradition I hope to continue and pass on to future generations. For now, I'm looking forward to this year's yummy dinner, and although we no longer trick-or-treat in the neighborhood, mom makes sure that candy is always on the menu. Happy Halloween!


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