By Nick Clifton, Director of Student Development
Rhythms and traditions in life are important, especially for children. Traditions allow children to hold on to something expected and knowable, and this becomes even more vital as those children step into the tumultuous and ever-changing days of adolescence. To have family rhythms and traditions that they can rely on is tantamount to creating a “safe space,” within our home for our children. This is one of the greatest qualities of the Christmas season – it comes with so many opportunities to create family traditions and shared experiences that we as families can cling onto and cherish for years to come. Plus, the great thing about traditions is that it is never too late to start one! So here are a few ideas of some family Christmas traditions that you can consider bringing to your home this year:
- Attend your church’s Christmas Eve service. Every year, my family joins my wife’s family in attending their church’s Christmas eve service. Already our oldest daughter looks forward to “holding the candle” as we all sing “O Come Let Us Adore Him” with fellow believers. This gives my wife and I an excellent yearly occasion to discuss the meaning of the lighting of the candle and that Jesus’ birth was the light of the world being born.
- Read the Advent story from the gospel of Luke. I still remember being a young boy and gathering around my grandpa’s recliner along with all of my cousins, aunts, and uncles to listen to him read the Christmas narrative from Luke 2 before we all opened presents. This was a great reminder of why we celebrate Christmas in the first place!
- Bake and decorate homemade cookies. This is a great time to gather the family in the kitchen for some great laughs as you all try your best to decorate some cookies! Have each family member request their favorite type of cookie to make, put on some Christmas music, and take some time to create memories around a cookie tray. Also, do not be afraid to get a little messy with the decorations!
- Go on a Christmas light viewing excursion. Make some hot chocolate to go, bring some of those personally decorated Christmas cookies, and take an evening to go look at Christmas lights.
- Create or purchase a family Advent calendar. Whether you make one yourself or buy one of the many Advent calendars that are available, this is a great daily tradition to follow as a family that creates a sense of anticipation and excitement as you walk closer and closer to the day of Christ’s birth.
- Create an Advent Wreath to light each Sunday night. Take an afternoon to go to your local craft store. Pick up a wreath, various decorations, and candles. Work together as a family to create your Advent wreath, and then allow each member of the family to light a candle and say the prayer for that week. For more information on Advent wreath traditions, follow this link —> https://www.crosswalk.com/special-coverage/christmas-and-advent/advent-wreath-candles-understanding-the-meaning-history-tradition.html
- Take a family trip. For our family, one of the greatest traditions we look forward to is waking up early, loading up our van, and driving across the great state of Texas to Houston to spend a week with family. While the time spent at our destination is a blessing, the time spent as a family on the road making memories is something that I as a father will always cherish.
- Sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus on Christmas day. For those with young children, it can be a neat tradition to bake a small birthday cake to light and sing happy birthday to Jesus on Christmas day. This is a simple reminder for young children of what this holiday is all about!
- Watch Christmas movies. As a movie lover, this is one of my favorite traditions. Every year, our family spends Christmas eve watching the classic, “It’s A Wonderful Life.” As with many of these traditions, this is just one more way in which we create intentional time together.
- Create a traditional Christmas lunch or dinner. I am a firm believer in the power of food to bring people together! Create a meal that you and your family can work together to make and enjoy every Christmas. For our family – it is prime rib, mashed potatoes, and mac and cheese (healthy, I know). What can your family meal be?
Whether it is some of these ideas, or something completely different, create some traditions for your family to gather around this year! Use those traditions and rhythms this holiday season to combat the stress and commercialism and create lasting memories!