Who doesn’t love a good celebration? I know I never have to look too hard to find a reason to celebrate. The joy we find in gathering together with others to bond, reflect, and make memories is part of how God has created us as relational beings. There is no doubt God loves a good celebration more than any of us—after all, the Bible is filled with accounts of people instituting and carrying out historical and cultural events. From the Old Testament to the New Testament, we see the people of God celebrating through feasts and festivals, much like we still do today.
We have talked about giving and serving to meet the needs of others, and we are meant to give and serve our own families first. In thinking through all the ways we give to and serve the members of our households, I think one that doesn’t typically come to mind is the giving of traditions. Traditions naturally flow from celebrations, connecting the past to the present, one generation to the next.
In light of upcoming holiday feasts, what are some of your family traditions? How do you hope to pass them on to your children? In my family, we always eat Cajun fried turkey and orange cups (a recipe from my great grandmother) on Thanksgiving and tamales on Christmas Day. Every family is unique and incorporates its own history into celebrations, but as part of the family of God, keeping Jesus the central focus of these celebrations is the most important tradition we pass along. With that in mind, here are some ideas for simple traditions your family can create to keep Christ the central theme this holiday season.
1) Start a blessings jar. Keep a jar on the counter where people can write something they are thankful for and drop it in. On Thanksgiving, read the notes aloud so everyone can reflect on their blessings together.
2) Share your edification for one another aloud. Once a week, select a child or parent to be the focus of your family edification. Have the member of the family being edified stand up and listen as each family member shares something that makes them grateful for this sibling or parent. Make certain to praise them for the ways you see God working in their lives, and thank Him for creating such unique individuals.
3) Set up the Nativity together and read the birth story of our Savior as a family. If you have young children, get a nativity set they can physically play with. We have the Little People® Nativity Set and talk about every person and animal during the Advent season. And, instead of elves on shelves, how about following the journey of Mary, Joseph, and the wise men? We like to move Mary and Joseph around the living room and talk about their journey to Bethlehem as they make their way to the crèche. It is a fun way for children to learn visually.
4) Create shepherd’s pouches. Over your mantle, hang a simple, plain pouch for each of your children. The idea is to give “gifts to the King” throughout the season of Advent. Every time your child does a good deed or goes out of his or her way to be kind to another, put a coin in the bag. On Christmas Eve, use the coins to purchase something for someone in need.
5) Set up an Advent wreath. Celebrating Advent was a huge part of our family tradition when I was growing up. As an adult, I still set up an Advent wreath on our dining table and follow a liturgical reading calendar. We read Scripture, sing a Christmas carol, and light the candles. You don’t have to read from a liturgical calendar if it does not speak to you, but you can talk about the season of Advent and make a wreath part of a meaningful family tradition.
6) Sing! Sing songs of praise every day of the year, and take advantage of the incredible theology found in the old hymns. Teach your children to hear and sing songs of worship and adoration to the One who came and is coming again. Play the piano with them or sing along with a recording, and enjoy celebrating through song the One who came and is coming again.
7) See the lights together. Gather the family up with some cider or cocoa, and go look at the beautiful homes lit up as a reminder of the Light of the world, Jesus.
The Body of Christ is so diverse, and diversity is a magnificent thing. We would love to hear some of your favorite traditions, whether new or old, and how you are trying to incorporate them into your family. Please join our closed Facebook group HERE and share with us today.