Family Resiliency Expert to Speak on the Importance of Holiday Traditions
December 3, 2003
December 3, 2003

URBANA--Just in time for the holidays, respected expert on family relationships Evan Imber-Black will speak on "The Significance of Holiday Traditions for Family Resiliency" in the Krannert Art Museum auditorium at the University of Illinois in Urbana on Monday, December 8, at 7 p.m. The talk is part of The Pampered Chef® Family Resiliency Program lecture series.

Imber-Black, co-author of Rituals for Our Times: Celebrating, Healing, and Changing Our Lives and Our Relationships, with Janine Roberts, has studied the ways in which practicing traditions and everyday rituals contributes to families' well-being. Her presentation will center on the results of this work as she gives practical examples of how diverse families incorporate meaningful rituals into their celebration and observance of holidays.

At this time of the year, Imber-Black writes in Rituals for Our Times, families long to have holidays that are filled with meaning. "Our holidays provide a kind of snapshot memory of the family, and deep emotional meaning is attached to these special times of the year," she said.

But, she adds, families may also receive a lot of pressure about how to celebrate. There are strong media messages about what to do and buy, and high levels of anticipation are established for the holidays by media images of family togetherness and happiness. Imber-Black advocates changing rituals that have lost their meaning and teaches families how to create new rituals that promote family connections.

Although some families find that yesterday's traditions give comfort, others find that certain traditions don’t work well as well--for all kinds of reasons. Interfaith families, remarried families, or families that have recently experienced loss through divorce or death may need to add or subtract certain elements from their family rituals to make the holiday meaningful for all family members. Imber-Black makes many suggestions for adapting old rituals or creating new ones to make holidays truly meaningful occasions.

Imber-Black is director of the Center for Families and Health and a senior faculty member at the Ackerman Institute for the Family in New York City. The Center for Families and Health provides training, consultation, and therapy for families dealing with chronic or life-threatening illness. She is also a professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York.

Imber-Black is a past president of the American Family Therapy Academy. She has received several prestigious awards, including the academy's Family Therapy Academy Award in 1990, and has written books, such as Rituals in Families and Family Therapy, that have contributed greatly to family therapy practice. She is editor-elect of the scholarly journal Family Process.

The December 8 lecture is sponsored by The Pampered Chef Family Resiliency Program, a partnership between The Pampered Chef, Ltd., and the Department of Human and Community Development in the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. Doris Kelley Christopher, a University of Illinois alum, is the founder and chairman of The Pampered Chef, Ltd. The family resiliency program, directed by Professor Laurie Kramer, supports a lecture series, faculty research grants, and graduate fellowships in the area of family resiliency. The lecture is free and open to the public.