How do you choose a Christmas family tradition? When every family starts out, at some point the conversation happens, “What family traditions will we have?”
For younger families that perhaps want something new, or maybe there were no set traditions growing up, it can be overwhelming. Maybe all you have are bad memories at the Holidays. That doesn’t have to hold true for your own kids.
Want my advice? Don’t stress about it. As your family and kids grow, you’ll find traditions basically start themselves.
What you can do is be intentional in creating a peaceful, purposeful environment during the Holidays. Remember, it’s not so much what is being done as it how things are done. You can bake Christmas cookies together and shop for Dad and Grandma - all with cranky attitudes and sour hearts. You were doing the traditions, but ruining it with grumpiness and who knows what else.
Have open talks with your kids about things - how not discussing politics with Uncle Fred at dinner is using wisdom, gratefulness for what they get (or don’t get) and generosity in giving to others. Engage in conversations about Holiday stress and tension and get to the why of the matter. Show them what it means to serve others and the importance of family. Bring the focus to Jesus and His gift to us. Center the Holiday around the Gospel.
Often there’s a tradition that’s special to us and we carry it into our own family. For me, one of those traditions is stockings. Stockings are a big deal. Some of the best, “biggest” or most wanted gifts end up in the stocking. Candy and Target dollar bin stuff is filler, sure. But mostly, stockings are full of fantastic gifts. We knew this, and when wrapped packages under the tree were more sparse, it meant the stocking content was gonna be amazing.
As the saying goes, “more is caught than taught.” Don’t die on the hill of, “this is our family tradition, and doggone-it we will do it!” Be flexible. Things change. A new baby. No job. In-laws. Sickness. A move. Traveling.
One of the sweetest Christmas memories I have is when I lived in Taiwan. The team of teachers I was with pooled together to buy an artificial tree. One of the guys got some lights mailed from home. Another made a tin foil star and together we crafted a popcorn garland. We were all young enough that for most, it was our first Christmas away from home. We bonded in that time through exchanging gifts, singing songs and cooking an amazing Christmas feast…with a toaster oven and electric burners.
Frequently, those thrown-together, pull-together, make-it-work times will become the most precious of life’s memories. Traditions are good. They are important. But they are not vital to having a Merry Christmas.
Again I say, don’t stress about it. Jesus is the reason for the season after all! Enjoy making memories with your family. Find what works just for you and yours.