Our family, probably like yours, has lots of Christmas traditions. These are special things we do as a family every year to help celebrate Christmas.
This year we started celebrating advent with an advent wreath and the nightly reading of the book “Jotham’s Journey.” The story starts the fourth Sunday before Christmas and each night we read a little more of the story until Christmas day. We are enjoying this family devotion time, as it opens the door for great conversation about our sinfulness and our need for a Savior.
One of our favorite things to do is bake and decorate Christmas cookies. Last year, we made goodie bags of cookies and candies for our neighbors and included a gospel tract inside. Brad and the children delivered the bags and they were warmly accepted!
A tradition we have done since our Logan joined the family is acting out the Christmas story from the book of Luke. Lindsay plays Mary. Logan plays Joseph, a shepherd, and a wise man, and Luke, who has faithfully served as our Baby Jesus for the past three years, will be a shepherd and a wise man this year. Brad plays a shepherd and a wise man. I am the narrator and angel. The kids dig through closets to come up with costumes and props for our story. They really, really look forward to this special time on Christmas Eve! It serves to focus our attention on the whole meaning of Christmas, the birth of Jesus our Savior.
Also on Christmas Eve, we eat pizza. It’s quick, easy, fun, and everybody likes it! We have recently started allowing the children to open one gift on Christmas Eve. They can choose, but it cannot be one from Mom and Dad. Next, they do get to open a family gift from us. It’s always a new game! It helps us build our game collection and gives us a fun thing to do after dinner.
Each year, I give the children at least one new Christmas ornament. Sometimes it reflects a special happening of the year. For example, in 2006 when Lindsay performed in her ballet school’s production of “The Nutcracker,” I gave her a “Clara” ornament. This summer Logan caught his first fish during a family vacation, so he received a fish ornament. Reflective of the things Luke likes, he has ornaments of a firetruck, a bear, and a car. I write their initials and the year on the underside of the ornaments. One day when my children leave our home to start their own homes, they will have a small, cherished collection of ornaments to adorn their own trees. (And my tree will be pitifully bare!)
Another tradition is that Brad and I only give our children three gifts each, reflective of the traditional three gifts of the wisemen (gold, frankincense, and myrrh). With grandparents and aunts and uncles, the children lack no good thing! The three gift limit helps us teach our children to not lavish in excess and helps Brad and me avoid excess in our budget.
We also make sure that our family gives a gift to the Birthday Boy. We pray about an amount of money to give to our church’s Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. It is an offering collected during the month of December to help support foreign missionaries. We have lots of friends who are missionaries, and their work is near and dear to our hearts. May God’s Word go out to all the nations!
We may add new traditions as the years pass, but I hope these will remain set, for they are precious to me. Like Mary, I “treasure all these things, pondering them in (my) heart” (Luke 2:19)