In this week’s post, my friend, author Amanda Flinn, shares some great insights with us on how to establish and continue meaningful family traditions for the Christmas season. Be sure to check out Amanda’s encouraging—and often humorous—blog at www.AmandaFlinn.com.
I love family traditions.
Especially traditions associated with Christmas.
And recently, I was able to sit down with a few older people in our community and hear stories of their Christmas memories and traditions from long ago. This was such a special moment, not only for them, but for me as well. Hearing about their childhood memories, along with the memories of their parenting years, gave me a sweet opportunity to reflect on my own family, our traditions and the legacy that I hope to pass down to my grandchildren one day.
Depending on your season of life, sometimes you will be the tradition maker and sometimes you’ll be the receiver of the traditions. I have three children at home right now, so I seem to be in the busy stage of tradition making. I love it, but it’s a lot more work than my mom let on. Over the years, my husband and I have used traditions from our own childhood, but we’ve also adopted a few new ones for our kids.
And what we have discovered is that the key to lasting traditions is purpose, joy and fulfillment.
Traditions need to have purpose.
Why are you doing it? What’s the point? If it’s to get a great picture for your Instagram account, then great, but know the reason. Traditions were super popular in the Bible. Some we still follow today. Some we have let go of because they no longer serve their purpose. Do you go on long walks after your holiday meal because your purpose is to create healthy lifestyle memories with your children? Perfect. Then get out there and move it.
Joy. We all want joy, right?
We sing about it, and talk about it, and I literally have the word hanging all over my house at Christmastime. Why? Because I need the reminder to be joyful. While Christmas is amazing, it can be stressful, and if we are not careful, the joy can be sucked right out of it. So, what brings you joy? What traditions do you have that keep you focused on Jesus and the true joy that He brings? Find out what those are and put them on repeat, ‘cause mama, you’re gonna need ‘em!
And finally, fulfillment.
If it’s not filling you up, then stop doing it. For example: If you make a gingerbread house every year, just because you have always made a gingerbread house, but secretly hate making the gingerbread house, then this is the time to put that tradition to rest. Your mom will survive. Your kids will survive. In fact, you may all be better for it.
What’s great about traditions is that they can be adapted through the generations. They can be flipped and switched and moved around until you find some that stick. Here are three that we have in our home. If you love them, try them out for your family, or adapt them as needed. If you don’t, then no worries, but find some of your own and enjoy the journey.
In an effort to keep Christmas simple and tie our celebrations back to Jesus, each of our kids get three gifts on Christmas morning, to represent the three gifts that Jesus received at his birth. To make this fun and a little more drawn out, we hide the gifts and leave clues for them to find them around the house. My kids are 5, 11, and 14. They still love this.
The Christmas Eve Ornament
Every year on Christmas Eve, my kids get to open a special ornament. The ornament represents something good or memorable that happened to them within the past year. A cross for my son’s baptism, a parasailing chute for overcoming fear on family vacation, or even an old pacifier or special toy that they love. I write their name and year on each ornament and when they move out and start their own families, they will have eighteen ornaments to take with them.
The Advent Calendar
About 8 years ago, I made a simple Advent calendar from a mini muffin tin. It was an easy DIY that I found on Pinterest. Inside each little space is a message for the day and a scripture reading. Sometimes the message is a task to do in preparation for Christmas, like “bake cookies for a neighbor” or “wrap presents”. Other days, it’s an activity to do together like “family game night” or “drive around and look at Christmas lights”. Some take two minutes, like “say a prayer for our country” and others take more thought and planning, like “pay for someone’s meal behind you in the drive thru”. The scripture reading each day leads up through the story of Jesus’ birth (also found on Pinterest).
Whatever traditions you have, just make sure that they work for you! Have fun making them, receiving them and finding purpose, joy and fulfillment in them. Praying sweet memories for all of you during this Christmas season.
If you have a special Christmas tradition, we would love to hear about it! Comment down below.