3 Christmas Traditions For Your Family
When it comes to family traditions, doesn’t it seem like the ones we remember most are the ones associated with Christmas? When my husband and I got married 43 years ago, we knew that we wanted to glorify God by having his Son at the center of our family Christmas. After all of these years, it is fun to think back over some of the ways we celebrated Christmas with our 10 children. Perhaps these memories will plant a seed of an idea that will bloom into a new tradition in your home.
“And they fell down and worshiped Him; and opening their treasures they presented to Him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh” (Matt. 2:11).
1. Make a Birthday Cake For Jesus
I think our simplest tradition was our birthday cakes for Jesus. Even the littlest ones understood this pretty well. We all had birthday cakes and singing on our birthdays. They understood that since Christmas was a birthday, we lit the candles on the cake and sang “Happy Birthday” to Jesus on Christmas Eve.
2. Fill Jesus’s Manger With Hay
One year, I even made a manger to set up on the piano, leaving a box of straw beside it. Throughout the advent season, we encouraged the children to be watchful for kind deeds to be done in secret. After a deed was done, a piece of straw could be added to the manger to prepare a comfy bed for the little Lord Jesus on Christmas morning. I loved this because it helped the children focus their attention on others during the season of giving.
3. Memorize Scripture & Music to Share With Others
My very favorite tradition, however, came from a very spur-of-the-moment decision! Surely you remember the moment from “A Charlie Brown Christmas” when Linus explains what Christmas is all about by quoting from Luke chapter two. I had wanted to memorize this passage with the children for some time but had not gotten around to it. Finally, one morning in early December, I called our pastor to ask if our family could quote this passage during the Christmas Eve service. Once I received an enthusiastic, “Yes!”, the work began!
We had so much fun memorizing the verses and reflecting on the story of Jesus’s birth. We quoted the story for our church family— even the youngest child had a small part. We also quoted it along with some songs for grandparents around the tree. The following year, we added the next six verses.
Building on this, the children began putting together a Christmas program each year. There was singing—accompanied by musical instruments—and a little play, featuring the youngest child as baby Jesus. Sometimes we took the show on the road to the local nursing home, where the residents were an enthusiastic and welcoming audience. Even now, we quote the Christmas story and sing these carols when we gather together for our family Christmas.
Another favorite tradition of mine is Operation Shoebox, something we began when our children were small. We found it to be an excellent way to grow hearts of gratitude and help others at Christmastime. It was also enjoyable! The children had fun choosing gifts for their box, thinking of the child who would receive those very items.
Other things I have learned? Be sure your children say thank you when they receive a gift; and take time to write thank you notes to those who cannot be thanked in person. Above all, though, encourage your family to be grateful for the true gift of Christmas: the one who came to rescue us from our sin and give us life, the Lord Jesus Christ!
Have a blessed Christmas as you celebrate the birth of Jesus!
“And the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).