My children have always loved traditions of any kind and in any season. My husband and I blended many of our parents’ holiday festivities into our own family traditions, including special foods and activities, favorite prayers, and church celebrations. If I tried something new and my family enjoyed it, a tradition was born!
Now our grandchildren also love traditions. These fun and consistent activities are excellent ways to build our relationships, but they are also opportunities to share our love for Christ and to encourage that love in our extended family.
Each year we host Thanksgiving with all our local extended family as well as the friends we claim as family. Everyone brings a dish to pass, and we supply the turkey and fixings. After the dinner tables are cleared and the food is put away, guitars, banjos, and rhythm instruments are brought out. We sing Christmas carols while the little ones run around banging on drums, cymbals, and triangles, and shaking bells. It’s a joyous day as we remember how the Lord has blessed us over the past year.
Similarly, our Christmas traditions center around the birth of the Savior. Before we begin our celebration, we gather around the Christmas tree in the living room. Everyone holds a glass of sparkling wine or juice. Grandpa has the large family Bible in his lap opened to the book of Luke. The out-of-town family members join us via FaceTime, gathered around their own decorated tree with sparkling wine or juice in hand. We all sit quietly while Grandpa reads Luke chapter 2.
When Grandpa has finished reading, we join him in raising our glasses and loudly toast Jesus, our Savior and King! “Happy Birthday, Jesus!” Everyone gently touches his or her glass to that of each person in the room, deliberately making eye contact (eye contact is mandatory – it’s a tradition!) and says, “Merry Christmas!”
We want to build a strong family culture through our traditions, and we want that culture to center around Jesus. Kids cling to traditions and look forward to them even when they don’t understand the deeper meaning behind them. We are intentional about the types of traditions we create with the hope that, over time, what is now seen as just a fun activity will eventually have a profound meaning and help to build their faith as they grow older.
What were your favorite Christmas traditions as a child?
Identify the traditions you have with your grandkids. Evaluate their purposes and how well they achieve them.
Rene Shireman lives in Lansing, Michigan with her loving husband of 46 years, Tim. They have four grandchildren (three boys and one girl) and have been members of the Work of Christ Community for 43 years.
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