I love traditions. The older I get, the more I see the inevitable. I’m turning into my mother…and my grandmother…and probably some other old lady with a wild chin hair before them. I find myself doing the same things, the same way, year after year. My grandmother always made the same simple stuffing at Thanksgiving. My mother sewed matching clothes for my dolls. Me? I prefer a tradition where everyone helps fold the mountain of laundry but the holiday spirit is pretty weak for that one… so I have a list of other fun and simple holiday traditions to enjoy.
In a life of constant, exhausting (and sometimes unwelcome) change, I need a few steadies in my world. Enter traditions. Old and new, dumb or classy, meaningful and pointless – and combined, the things we do together, intentionally and repeatedly, tell the story of family.
Traditions provide a sense of identity. Traditions teach family values. And traditions create great memories.
One of my favorite traditions is to let my little kids play with a nativity set or even build one. This year my younger kids made a Lego nativity set. It was pretty amazing. It had a moving star and everything. Proudly I asked them to tell me about their creation. “Baby Jesus…angel…manger…Moses and Sarah…”
<Insert sound of record needle being pulled across a vintage vinyl at 165 decibels.>
What? Did you really just say Moses and Sarah? As in THOSE are supposed to be Jesus’ parents? Oh-no-you-did-not. I grounded them to their room to pray and lament over their horrible mistake. And then I flogged myself with a wet kitchen towel for not making sure my kids know the Christmas story. It’s like I don’t even know the most important birthday in the history of the world…
Which brings me to the most important tradition. It’s one we simply cannot afford to miss. No, it’s not decorating the Christmas tree or even sharing a family dinner at Grandma’s house.
The most important thing this season is to point our children to the heart of God and to a deeper understanding of His love for us. Nothing else really matters.
I’ve put together a few holiday traditions and included some family discussion questions and scripture references. If you’re looking for a new twist on familiar activities, check this out. Strengthen your traditions by rooting them in the truth of God’s Word. Let me give you an example:
Set out a puzzle between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Encourage family members to stop and work a few pieces throughout the week. You’ll find interesting conversations occur over 1000 tiny jigsaw pieces. I like to make a comparison. Ask your family, “Do you ever feel like pieces of your life just don’t fit? Or you can’t figure out what should happen next? Are you ever convinced something is missing?” Our life is just like this puzzle. It’s full of tiny events that sometimes don’t make sense or seem like a big mistake. Romans 8:28 assures us in all things God works for the good of those who love Him. Just like this puzzle, we can be assured God has a plan for each “piece” of our life.
Tying scripture to traditions this year can be quite easy. All it takes is a little creative effort. You don’t have to have grand events and spend oodles of time preparing. Start small. Start with one thing. Just start.