Whether you go to Midnight Mass every Christmas or perform your feats of strength at exactly 6 p.m. every Festivus, your traditions or rituals could be what is keeping your family holidays a happy occasion. According to Behavioral Economist Michael Norton, families with holiday rituals are more likely to spend the holiday together than families who don’t.

“The holidays for many are a source of great joy and at this very same time a source of great stress. Often the stress is around, you’ve got to see your family,” Norton said on Boston Public Radio Monday.

Having a ritual, even a simple one like having dinner at the same time every thanksgiving, can help lower stress levels for families. Instead of having to worry about what time dinner is, you already know and don’t have to worry about, Norton says.“Just the structure alone can really help you have an okay day.”

Norton also points out that having annual activities for your family can distract some family members from talking about controversial topics.

“ You’re waiting for the football game to start because otherwise you have to talk, then the talking leads to the political differences and everything that comes up,” Norton said.

Click above to listen to our interview with Michael Norton.