I can still clearly remember the sights and sounds of one of my family’s Christmas Eve traditions. We would gather in our living room, and my parents would put Christmas Sing-Along with Mitch on the record player. With song sheets in hand, we would sing the beautiful and joyful carols. To this day, it is a sweet memory from my childhood. Traditions can serve as powerful and poignant tools for passing on certain values from one generation to the next.
Here are some words from Sally Michael about Christmas traditions and children:
Alongside our conversations about what gifts we will give, it is good to ask how we bring Christ near to our children this season. Just as establishing a daily routine helps keep discipleship a priority in our homes, so also, establishing family traditions helps us make the most of the opportunities we have during these special seasons of the year.
Many families already have Christmas traditions that they look forward to like decorating the tree, hanging stockings, drinking hot chocolate, baking cookies, opening presents, and gathering with family for dinner. Christian families may read the Christmas story, use an Advent calendar, or attend the Christmas Eve service at church as part of their tradition. The point is that simple repetition establishes traditions that are remembered and often valued for a lifetime.
Since traditions can span generations, it is worth the effort to invent and plan them with purpose, content, and clarity. Traditions create memories. So, it is wise to consider what memory we are creating, and if it is a memory we want to reinforce every year.
What thoughts do we want our children to have thirty years from now when Christmas lights are turned on and the music of this season fills the air? What thoughts of God and devotion toward Christ do want to be triggered in the minds of our children?
That last paragraph is most important. Yes, there are many fun and memorable traditions that can be established and celebrated at Christmas time. But ultimately, are we prioritizing traditions that will serve to help our children and grandchildren treasure Christ above all? Even the simplest traditions started when children are very young can serve to point our children to the surpassing treasure of Jesus.
One new tradition my grandchildren are enjoying is the Advent resource “Good News of Great Joy!” It is providing them with a wonderfully rich and biblical countdown to Christmas and the significance of Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection. Years from now, I hope and pray that they will look back at that simple tradition, begun in early childhood and be moved to marvel anew at the treasure of Christ.
One book I highly recommend (and it’s a great gift idea) is Noel Piper’s book, Treasuring God in Our Traditions. Here is a short description of the book:
Treasuring God in Our Traditions presents the importance of passing along Christ-centered traditions and a Bible-saturated legacy in Christ to future generations. Noël Piper helps her readers recognize how the "everyday" routines of life and the "especially" celebrations of holidays and dates can be practically passed down to future generations. When parents and grandparents seek to pass along the treasure of God to their children and grandchildren, they will develop and deepen their love for him.