It’s that time of year again!
Thanksgiving has just ended and the Christmas decorating has started. (For some, it started weeks ago!)
This is my favorite time of the year for many reasons: My wife and I were married in December of 2010, people seem to be more compassionate and generous, magical lights illuminate streets and homes all across town, and its a major opportunity to share the true story about the birth of our Savior – to the world.
But one of the main reason why this is “the most wonderful time of the year” for my family and I, is our holiday traditions.
And that brings me to today’s Life Lesson…
Most families have holiday traditions. Rather you experienced them when you were a kid or you’re just now experiencing some traditions as an adult, the memories are timeless.
New or old, holiday traditions are saved in a special place in our hearts. They are what make our memories worth remembering. They are what bond us together as families, regardless of how silly they may seem.
This year, I get to introduce my little girl to the new holiday traditions my wife and I made when we got married in 2010. Christmas in it of itself is a magical time of year. As a kid, I was enamored by all the lights, sounds, smells, food, family, and fun. Now that I’m an adult (aka – a big kid) I get to relive those magical moments in the eyes of my daughter as I watch her grow up and enjoy this Christmas season too.
WHY ARE HOLIDAY TRADITIONS SO IMPORTANT?
Studies have shown that holiday traditions help connect us to our history and generations of family. They keep the memories of the past alive and help us share them with newer generations.
Although holiday traditions are usually the fist thing people think of when you mention traditions, they are not the only ones families have. Whether it’s stringing popcorn for the Christmas tree, watching the Thanksgiving Day parade while the turkey cooks, building sand castles every summer or regularly having family movie night, they are family rituals that brings children and parents closer. These moments create positive memories for children and provide positive events for everyone to anticipate! Children crave the comfort and security that comes with traditions and predictability. This takes away the anxiety of the unknown and unpredictable. Traditions are a wonderful way to anchor family members to each other, providing a sense of unity and belonging.
Not every family is lucky enough to have traditions, but that’s ok. That just gives you the freedom to start creating your own! With the holidays coming, it is the perfect excuse to start trying new things! It can really be anything you think is fun. Perhaps it could be playing TBS’s 24 hours of the Christmas Story in the background while the family spends time together, cooks dinner, and plays with their new toys. Going to a Christmas candlelight communion service at church. Reading the Night Before Christmas or The TRUE Christmas Story from the Bible on Christmas Eve is popular, or perhaps reading A Christmas Carol throughout the season and learning its history and meaning.
Once you get started making traditions during the holidays, you can start branching out to make new traditions throughout the year. Start a pizza night, a movie night, or even board game night. Make birthdays a special time for the celebrant to pick the cake and their favorite dinner. If these things aren’t what you had in mind, traditions can be the annual family vacation where you spend time together every year.
If there is a simple take away message here, it’s that traditions nurture our spirit and are an important part of family bonding. They can be anything fun you and your family already enjoy doing, or you can have fun starting your own. Don’t get caught up in instituting the perfect family tradition, because it’s not about being perfect. It’s about the experience you share with your family.
So, here are some of the Christmas traditions my wife and I created and do each year together! Feel free to use any of them for your family! Start building lasting memories and a solid relationship as a family this year!
MY FAMILY’S HOLIDAY TRADITIONS:
- Each year, when we set up our Christmas tree and decorations (after Thanksgiving), we either play Christmas music or the Christmas classic movies (Rudolph, Frosty, etc.) in the background as we pop cookies in the oven and make peppermint mocha coffee or fresh made hot chocolate topped with whipped cream and cinnamon.
- Each year, when all the decorating is done, we turn the lights off and as our home is intimately lit by our Christmas lights, we dance slowly together to Jeremy Camp’s version of “Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” (This year, we got to hold our daughter between us as we danced in the living room together.)
- Each year, we like to decorate a gingerbread house together and/or make Christmas cutout cookies and decorate them with frosting and sprinkles. Then, when we’ve had our fill and simply can not eat anymore, we share them with family and friends at Christmas parties!
- Each year, we LOVE opening our home and hosting Christmas parties for our church small group or close friends!
- Each year, we send out a family Christmas photo and/or a Christmas letter to our family and friends wishing them warm Christmas cheer!
- Each year, I enjoy making my popular dessert, “Chris’ Christmas Rice Crispy Treats!”
- Each year, my wife and I look forward to celebrating Christmas with our church family by participating in their Christmas service. Normally these services are soft, warm, and intimate. Its a great time to slow down during the holiday rush and remember the TRUE meaning of Christmas. At most church services during this time of year, they partake in communion and also remember the sacrifice of our Lord, as well as His birth.
- Each year, we LOVE to take an evening and go drive around (with a Christmas Starbucks in hand) and go Christmas light looking. Its even more fun with these AWESOME Christmas light glasses from Lowe’s.
- Each year, we love attending Christmas parties with either family or friends. This really helps build relationships!
- Each year, we watch a Christmas movie together each week as a family – complete with popcorn.
- Each year, we take communion together as a family after reading the Christmas Story from the Bible.
- Each year, we love to only listen to Christmas music after Thanksgiving and all throughout the month of December – especially Michael Buble Christmas and the classics.
- Something NEW we’re trying this year (and onward) is buying only 3 gifts for each other in order to help save money, inspire giving over getting and learning to be satisfied, and in honor of our Savior -who at His birthday celebration received 3 gifts (gold, frankincense, and myrrh.) One gift is meant to meet a desire (such as a video game or toy), one gift to meet a need (new clothes or shoes), and one gift to help deepen our relationship with the Lord (devotional, worship cd, book, etc.)
- In the future (as our daughter and kids get older) we want to start a NEW tradition of opening ONE present on Christmas Eve which will always be new Pajamas and a Christmas basket filled with popcorn, candy, hot cocoa, and a new Christmas movie! Then, we’ll change into our new pajamas, pop the corn, and watch the movie together. Great movies for this time of year are ones such as Home Alone(s), Elf, The Santa Clause(s), The Christmas Classics, Charlie Brown, Jingle All The Way, It’s a Wonderful Life, and more!
- In the future (as our daughter and kids get older) I want to dress up as Santa on Christmas Eve and “get caught” by my kids putting presents under the tree. Then, sit them down on “Santa’s knee” and read them an original Christmas story I wrote called “That Special Night.” It’s a story told from Santa’s perspective on a Christmas Eve night as he tells kids the true meaning of Christmas, and one I hope to have published as a fully illustrated book in the near future!
- In the future (as our daughter and kids get older) we want to make a small birthday cake and celebrate Jesus’ birthday (even though Christmas day isn’t the official day). It’ll be fun singing “Happy Birthday Jesus” together as it serves as a reminder of the true meaning of Christmas.
- In the future (as our daughter and kids get older) we want to have a white stocking meant for Jesus. Each year we want to write personal notes to Jesus thanking Him (and the Father) for all the blessings He gave us during the year, and what we want to give to Him in the new year (loving people like He does, working on our anger, working on extending grace to others, serving without being asked because Jesus served us, etc.)
I told you this was our favorite time of year!
Even though this may seem like a lot, and even though we may not get to do all our family’s traditions in one month’s time, we still enjoy it and make the most of every moment together.
So, lets hear it! What are some of your family holiday traditions?
Don’t have any? Start some of your own this year!
Merry, Merry Christmas ~ from our family to yours!