Prioritizing Family Christmas Traditions
Updated: Dec 11, 2019
This is my families favorite time of year. We love the whole season. The lights, the sounds, the movies, snow days, the fresh baked cookies — we love it all!
If you’re like my family, it can be easy to get wrapped up in the busyness of the season. You are not weird. You are human. As a parent of 6 kids, my wife and I have to grab hold of every opportunity to remind our kids, and ourselves, why we celebrate Christmas.
What we have found helpful is realizing that building traditions actually help us teach our children who they are as part of our family, as well as who they are in God’s family. Not just traditions in our home, but traditions in our church family as well.
Traditions reinforce our most fundamental values. That's why traditions are important through the year but especially during the holiday season. Children gain a sense of security and belonging as they experience traditions. And it’s through traditions that our faith has been shared from generation to generation.
Psalm 145:4 reminds us that and it’s our responsibility as adults to share God’s great works from one generation to the next. What we have learned is traditions don’t have to be expensive or extravagant. It’s really about being together and the meaning behind them.
If you’d like to start family traditions or add new ones as your kids get older, here are a few ideas to get you started.
1. Read the story of Jesus’ birth together as a family.
The story of Jesus’ birth is found in Luke 2:1-20. It's important that our kids hear the love, passion, and gratefulness from our own voices in how the Christmas story has come alive in our own hearts not simply from their pastor or teachers. It takes it from a fairy tale, like Santa and his reindeers, to a real life relationship that has changed everything in our lives. It makes it personal when they see it active in your home and in your life. Our kids need to hear how the manger changed everything for us and our family. Tell them of miracles you have walked through. Remind them why we give, serve, and are filled with joy.
If you have little kids, the Jesus Story book Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones is one we have used for years. It’s simple and engaging at the same time. Whether you choose to snuggle up by a cozy fire, take turns reading over breakfast leading up to Christmas, or read in a different child’s room at night, the Christmas story draws us closer to Jesus by reminding us that He came not just for the whole world...but for you and me. Make it as personal as you can.
2. Do something unique and fun.
Some of our favorite family traditions are the simple ones. It doesn’t matter that they’re simple. They’re ours and that makes them special. We love to take an entire day and stay in our pj’s, disconnect from all social media, and just bake cookies for our loved ones, smoke some meat, watch Christmas movies, and eat lots of food leading up to Christmas.
We also love to jump in the mini-van at night, stay in our pj’s (we love being comfortable), fill our cups up with hot chocolate, and go looking at Christmas Lights. Now that our kids are getting older, we talked about renting a bigger vehicle, ordering pizza and eating it in the vehicle, and making it a party looking at Christmas lights.
On Christmas Eve, our kids set out powdered sugar donuts and milk for Santa, (they know I’m Santa but we just have fun with it), they write what they have loved this year, and write down their wish list. Once they go to bed, I will write back to them as Santa telling them how much I love them and tell them to keep dreaming when they ask for a new car or something.
Even as the kids get older, when they wake up Christmas Day, they run to the fireplace before anything else to read my responses to them. On Christmas Day, that is our day to do absolutely nothing besides stay home, have a big Christmas breakfast, watch sports, go catch a movie at the theaters, eat food, stay up late watching movies and playing with their presents, and just enjoy being together.
And let me encourage you, whatever you choose to do, include your children in the planning of some simple and fun new traditions this year, and watch their faces shine! Don’t just tell them what you want to do but allow them to be part of the process so as they get older it becomes a part of what they love.
3. Don’t just attend a Christmas gathering together as a family…serve as a family.
I can’t say this enough that one of the biggest investments we made in our kids from day 1 was making sure we served together as a family. When they were little, they simply watched Alicia and I serve. We did it as a family. As they got older, they helped set up rooms, build stage sets, wrap cables, etc. Now…one of their favorite things to do is serve.
This past year, my 2 oldest use to be in the Christmas Kids performances. Now…they are leading the kids. My kids since they were 5 would wake up every Sunday with me at 5am, and head to church with the biggest smile on their face. I didn't wake them up once. They set their alarms and laid out their clothes.
At VIVE, they wake up early and before anyone gets there, they start the coffee for the team, get things set out on stage for the band, and just love being there. When other kids are sleeping, they are setting their alarms to go to church. Kids love what they see in their parents.
That is one of the biggest joys and blessings we get to witness.
Attending church together is a great tradition that goes far beyond the holiday season. And there’s something extra special when families serve together with a joy and pleasure knowing we are part of a bigger family called the Church.
Serving together gives everyone in our family time reflect on the goodness of God and realizing how blessed we really are. And some of our favorite times is every Sunday coming home telling the stories of what God has done and is doing. That is something that will last longer than any present we give or baked goods we make.
There’s no better time to start attending and serving as a family than this Christmas. Our Christmas gatherings at VIVE Culture are always special and something you’ll be talking about for years to come! If you are in the area, we'd love for you to join us.
What Christmas traditions do you look forward to?