Traditions are legacies that are passed down from generation to generation. Those traditions that are most strongly embraced in a family are most likely to be continued by the children and grand children and passed on to future generations. But as our children grow and get married, adjustments have to be made in consideration of the new spouse and extended family. Those traditions that had the least significance will likely be the ones lost. So from generation to generation your family traditions will change, but you can help determine the direction of those changes now by being intentional about choosing and creating your traditions. The more focus there is on Jesus in your celebration, the more likely that will carry into your future generations.
A number of years ago a close relative of mine passed away. She had three adult daughters, two of them Christians. At the funeral, as the pastor delivered the eulogy, I remember him saying that the one thing the girls remembered their mom for the most, was that she never stopped believing in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. This was what was held to be a most precious and valuable thing to this woman, and through her emphasis in her traditions, it is the legacy that is now being passed down to her grand children. What do you want to be remembered for and what kind of legacy do you want to leave for your family? I want to be remembered for always believing in (trusting in) Jesus Christ, not a fantasy.
When we evaluate and prioritize our traditions we setting a course for our future generations to follow. If you're looking for some new Christ centered traditions to start in your Christmas celebration, here are some ideas. Please share your own ideas as you leave a comment, and remember, Christ centered traditions can be fun as well as have meaning.
- Jesus birthday cake box - I took a paper mache box and decorated it to look like a birthday cake complete with battery operated candles. Several weeks before Christmas I begin prompting my grand daughters to think about what they want to give Jesus for His birthday. As the day draws near, they will make a little craft or card or something for Jesus. On Christmas day, before we open presents, they will place their gifts in the Jesus birthday cake box and each of them will *light* the candle and place it on the cake. When the box is full I will pass it on to one of the girls and make another one until they each have their own (along with their Jesus gifts) to use with their family's.
- Instead of the birthday cake box described above, you can substitute a box decorated like a gift box.
- Sarah at God's Not Finished with us Yet said she purchases balloons for each of her kids to release on Christmas day to fly to Jesus as a gift from them for His birthday.
- Gather the family together and read the Christmas story from the bible. Talk about the events, what it would have been like for those involved, and the impact it has made on each of your lives.
- While I read or tell the Christmas story, the kids act it out with a play nativity set. Before Christmas, I setup the nativity set on a low table where the kids can play with it when they come over. I have a rule that they can't take any of the pieces off of the table where it is setup. That way we don't lose pieces and they can still play with it.
- For each ornament on the Christmas tree, find a Scripture verse, print it on a tag, and attach it to the ornament. Choose scriptures that give meaning to the ornament.
- If you have a large family gathering, retell the Christmas story with a full cast of volunteers. Dress in costume and make it fun. Get the dog involved. Instead of reindeer antlers or a santa suit, dress him like one of the animals in the nativity.
- Find an open basket, a crate and materials that represent hay, something that looks similar such as colored yarn, raffia, strips of paper, etc. Trim into small pieces if necessary. Put the “hay” in a separate basket from the one that will be used as the manger. Each time someone performs an act of selfless service for another, or goes above that which may be expected of them, they have the opportunity to place a piece of hay in the manger. On Christmas Eve gather as a family to discuss feelings about all the wonderful things that have occurred through the duration of the practice, and place a baby doll representing Jesus into His manger.
- Fill your Christmas tree with handmade ornaments with the Names of Christ. Each year add ornaments with the Names that you don't already have.
- Every year have each member of the family make an ornament with one of the Names of Jesus. Gather together as a family and let each member tell the Name they chose and the reason why that Name was chosen. Make the ornaments a thank offering to God for the Gift of His precious Son.
We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonders. so the next generation might know them— even the children not yet born— and they in turn will teach their own children. Psalm 78:4,6