This is from an article that I wrote for the Member’s Newsletter last Christmas. I decided to post it on the blog to encourage families as the Christmas season begins this year.
OK, let’s be honest. We tend to be a pretty non-traditional church, so writing an article on traditions at Christmas may seem a bit out of place. Yet, Christmas is an important time to worship Jesus and teach the truth of the incarnation (the reality that God became a man in the person of Jesus). And, with the business and commercialism of the holidays, it is so easy to blow through the Christmas season without taking advantage of the time, especially to pass on the truth of Christmas to kids.
This is why I think it is so important for families to have a few Christmas traditions that they do each year, that are designed specifically to help everyone think about Jesus and worship him. I was reminded of the importance of traditions recently in a couple conversations. First, as we were decorating our Christmas tree, my oldest son Andy told us how much he loved our traditions and that he planned on taking them to his kids someday. Second, I had a conversation with a friend of our who recently married. She had been part of our traditions for several years and she was sharing how the two of them were working through their own set of traditions, trying to find their place in the Christmas celebration together.
Well, you are probably looking back at the heading of this article, which reads “Practical Theology” and wondering what Christmas traditions have to do with theology. So here is the quick theological section… CHRISTMAS IS ALL ABOUT JESUS! I have no problem with Santa, reindeer, great Christmas movies, etc. But if all those things rob us from finding Jesus, well, we missed the point.
I am not encouraging families or individuals to have a bunch of traditional things they do, just because it is Christmas. I am encouraging you to find ways to build into your holiday lives specific celebrations or observances that will help you worship the Savior, and pass on your beliefs about Christmas to your family.
I’ll close this article with a few of our traditions. I’m not sharing these so that you will copy the Hubbard family stuff, but just to prompt a few ideas. Then I’ll share a couple books with some great ideas. Here’s a few things we’ll do during Christmas:
- Family tree cutting and decorating – We always cut our own tree from a local farm, and decorate it together.Many of our decorations were made by or given to us by family, some of them who have passed away.The decoration of the Christmas tree gives us time to tell our kids about family members who lived before them, their love for Jesus, and the spiritual heritage that was passed on.
- A night in pajama to see Christmas lights – We set aside one night during December to get dressed in our warmest pj’s, pour everyone a big cup of hot chocolate, and we travel all over looking at Christmas lights. Usually we will include one of the major displays like Jellystone or Tilles Park, and then drive around and see homes. We play Christmas music, and spend part of the evening talking about our reason for celebrating Jesus, the light of the world.
- We tie our giving to missions to Christmas morning. We figure it is a celebration of Jesus birthday, so the first gift we open on Christmas morning is our family gift to World Missions.
- Use a nativity to act out the story. During the holidays, we will read the Christmas story from Matthew and Luke with our kids around a small nativity set that we have in our living room. The kids will “act out” the story using the characters in the set.
I know it may be a little late, but here are two resources that we have found, and like a lot, that will give some ideas for you and yours.
The ADVENTure of Christmas; Helping Children Find Jesus in our Holiday Traditions by Lisa Whelchel – The book has 25 daily celebrations, devotions, and projects to help families focus on Jesus during the season of Advent.
Treasuring God in our Traditions by Noel Piper – a great little book designed to show the importance of traditions in teaching about Jesus and give some very good ideas.