Traditions create a special bond within a family. Some are inherited patterns of behavior or beliefs that are passed down from generation to generation, while others are new rituals that are created that are unique to your family. They are things that families do together on a regular basis that can be repeated daily, weekly, monthly or annually. They can range from Saturday morning trips to the donut store or reading a bedtime story each night to yearly vacations at the beach or spending Christmas at Grandma’s house.
The celebration of Jesus’ birth is an important time of year for believers. As parents, it is our responsibility to help our children remember the love and sacrifice that Jesus made in coming to earth. In today’s culture, Christmas can be a very busy and hectic time of year for families. It is also very easy to get caught up in the commercialism of this merry holiday. So, how do we as parents keep Christ the focus of Christmas? How do we help our children during this time to be thankful to God for the gift of salvation and use this special time of the year to share God’s love with others? Here are some great ideas that I have discovered over the years along with some of our family’s favorite traditions to help keep Christ the focus during Christmas.
- Set up a Nativity and make it a focus in your home. We collect nativities and have them displayed throughout the house.
- Hide baby Jesus and “seek” Him Christmas morning before opening gifts.
- Gift wrap baby Jesus in your nativity and let this be your first unwrapped gift Christmas morning. Jesus is the gift of Salvation, the reason for the season.
- Many families limit each child to receive three gifts, taking a cue from the three wise men reminding kids that we are celebrating the birth of Jesus.
- Have a daily family devotion that unwraps Christmas. A study that we have used is The Names of Jesus, a unit study found online at easyfunschool.com. A fun idea is to create a paper chain, writing a different name of Jesus on each link for every day leading up to Christmas.
- Participate in Advent. Jesse Tree Advent….25 day online free printable Advent idea!
- Light an Advent wreath each day leading up to Christmas.
- Have a birthday cake for Jesus or go all out and make it a birthday party!
- Give your kids the gift of giving: give to a family in need, send a special love offering to a missionary, and/or participate in this year’s Hillcrest Giving Tree. Each tree will have names and gift ideas for children who are less fortunate. (Trees will go on display after Thanksgiving)
- Make the Nativity interactive with tools like What God Wants for Christmas. It’s from the creators of Resurrection Eggs and available for purchase at Family Christian bookstore, Lifeway, or online at christianbook.com.
- Do something for someone else on Christmas Day or during the season. Visit a nursing home, children’s hospital, take meals to shut ins, or serve lunch at a shelter.
- Invite someone to share Christmas dinner with your family. If your family would be willing to host international students in your home during this season, contact Jeff Medina at [email protected]
- Shop for a single mom. Play Secret Santa and drop off gifts for a single mom!
- Watch The Nativity Story together as a family. This PG movie tells very well the greatest story ever told.
- Talk about the symbols of Christmas. Check out the free online resources for you to use with your kids on the symbols of Christmas (ministry-to-children.com)
- Be generous with your time and resources as a family. Bake homemade cookies or breads and deliver them to your neighbors. For fun, sing carols as you make these special deliveries.
- Give out candy canes with the special Candy Cane Poem that tells about Jesus (poem can be found online ministry-to-children.com).
- Cherish traditions with your family. Start a new one such as: attend church on Christmas Eve. Hillcrest will have a special Christmas Eve service at 5:00 pm on December 24.
- Participate in our Lottie Moon Christmas Marketplace on December 15. You and your kids can bake or make things to sell in our marketplace. All money collected goes to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.
- Read Luke 2 together on Christmas Eve or morning.
- Begin collecting nativities from other countries. Talk about how other cultures worship.
- Attend one of the Hillcrest Living Christmas Tree presentations at Uptown Village. December 12, 13, 14, and 15. This is a great opportunity for you to engage in conversation with those in our community.
This is part two of a two part series on Traditions. Read part one.