Last night my family and I watched the lighting of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center on television. Generally kind of a cheesy program featuring has-beens and lightweight pop stars (though I guess Cee Lo doesn’t really count as either, on several different levels). My wife noted that watching this program probably means a bit more to us than for most people in our area, because of our connection to Rockefeller Center and the tree. For 13 years I worked just a block from 30 Rock, and would have to navigate the crowds on tree-lighting night to get my train home to Connecticut. And for most of those years, our family would spend a day in NYC, visiting the tree, the skating rink, and checking out all of the other holiday decorations throughout midtown Manhattan.

It was a tradition, and we felt a connection to the event, based on our personal and shared experiences.

The year-end holiday season, from Thanksgiving to Christmas (and Chanukah) through the New Year is a time filled with traditions. In our family we have quite a few the involve food or decorations and other little rituals. Many of these were passed down through generations and give us a connection to our past.

Growing up, I can think of one specific business that was a big part of our tradition: Sears. Each year my brothers and I would fight over the Sears Wish Book when it came, circling everything we wanted from Santa. Even when I was beyond the age of toys and circling things, I would grab the Wish Book when it came and go to the back, where all the good stuff was, and reminisce, thinking about all the cool toys and other things I had gotten over the years. That includes the unicycle that I really wanted badly, but never learned to ride, though my brother did!

Most businesses don’t elicit that kind of response from us; we don’t feel that kind of connection. But if a business can tap into our sense of tradition, it is possible to create a connection that can influence our behavior. It’s a bit easier at holidays because of shared traditions, but how can we move these sorts of connections throughout the year. Our businesses need to help customers create great moments and memories, and those memories will help to build stronger connections.

What are you doing to build strong connections with your customers that will last over time?