In our fast-paced, ever changing, highly disposable culture, we are finding fewer opportunities to establish family traditions. Christmas, however, stands as an anchor, rich in heritage and overflowing with possibilities for every home to establish their unique pattern of memories.
Christmas traditions allow us to maintain a proper perspective on the meaning of this precious season, even in the madness of our holiday shopping and schedules. Christmas traditions allow us to slow down and take a reflective pause, before we clutter our floors with ripped-up wrapping paper and empty boxes. Christmas traditions allow you to give your children more than a gift each year, but a memory–a memory they, in turn, can pass on to their children. Christmas traditions give your home a heritage.
It will be up to your family to determine which traditions you establish in your home, but I recommend you not neglect two basic essentials. I encourage you to ensure that your Christmas traditions are designed to honor the gifts that are given at Christmas time. First, honor the gift of Jesus every Christmas morning. Before a single present is unwrapped, allow time for the Bible to be opened. Read and remember the nativity story each Christmas morning. Second, honor the gifts given to one another every Christmas. Encourage your children to slow down, only allow one gift at a time to be opened, make sure appreciation is expressed to the giver of each gift, and do not allow anyone’s generosity to be lost in the mountains of wrapping paper accumulating in your living room.
The Christmas traditions of the von Atzigen house include:
- We always wake up in our own home on Christmas morning. We will travel all throughout the holidays, but Christmas morning is uninterrupted and undistracted. It is our family moment.
- Not a creature stirs before 7:00 a.m. This builds anticipation and allows mom and dad to recover from their late night of “some assembly required.” Too many Christmas mornings get lost in early unwrappings and the ensuing crabby sleepiness. And the thundering of the herd as they break into our room at 7:00 has become a beautiful Christmas morning sound, as well!
- The Christmas story comes before the gifts. We circle up as a family to read the Christmas story (Luke 2:1-20). We follow the Christmas story by receiving Communion together. We use a slice of bread and sparkling apple cider for our Christmas Communion elements, and we always drink from the finest stemware we have in the house. We follow Communion with a chocolate mint as we remember Psalm 34:8 and “taste and see that the Lord is good!”
- Finally, we make our way to the stockings and the gifts. Mommy directs traffic as gifts are opened. We make certain the giver of each gift is recognized and gifts are opened one at a time, as we pause with each present to celebrate the groovy things each person has received.
There are many more traditions you can establish, many more ways of making Christmas morning a worshipful experience. I pray that your home will find a way to give more than great gifts this year — but, to establish great memories for a lifetime.
What about your family? I would love to hear some of the special traditions you have established in your home to make the most of the beauty of Christmas.