“So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.”
As Fall is approaching, it makes me think of the ways I want our children to celebrate the holidays. What do I want them to remember about Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.? What traditions do I want to pass down to them?
One book that has been particularly instrumental in my life as I have thought about important traditions for our family is Treasuring God in Our Traditions by Noel Piper. It has been a good reminder to me that the most important thing I can impart to my children is Christ:
“The things we do regularly that help us in our deepest being to know and love and want God, the things that help our lives to be infiltrated with God—those things are tradition…For a Christian, tradition is laying up God’s words in our own hearts and passing his words to the next generation.”
Throughout her book, Noel talks about the importance of “everyday” traditions. Then, she focuses on some special things to do throughout the holidays to help ourselves and our children keep Christ first. As I was re-reading it the other day, it made me think of some ideas for Christmas. Some of the following ideas came from her book and I've stumbled upon some other ones.
Although Christmas is still a few months away, I am beginning to think of ways that I can help my children focus on the true meaning of Christmas: the fact that Jesus Christ came into the world as a little babe as a part of God’s perfect plan.
Advent is the period beginning four Sundays before Christmas, observed in commemoration of the coming of Christ into the world. By celebrating Advent, we take the month leading up to Christmas to focus on Christ and His birth.
We will be using advent candles to celebrate advent this Christmas. Our children may still be young, but by practicing this, they will learn the importance of this observance.
“We need to remember that our very young children will only see candles. No matter how much we explain the symbolism, they need some more years before they can comprehend the meaning of the candles. That’s why I always incorporate a manger scene int our Advent candle arrangement…what a child can see and touch, he might understand a little more clearly.”
I found this Advent candle set and just ordered it the other day. I was excited to find one that incorporated a manger scene in it as well.
- Children’s Advent Book
I bought a children’s Advent book last year, and our son loved it. It has daily readings and prayers and a lift-the-flap picture to look at each day to go along with the story. It’s a great way to count down the days to Christmas, while helping our children focus on the true meaning of Christmas. I look forward to reading it to our children again this year! See the book here.
- Interactive Nativity for Children
We did this last year as well and our little boy loved it! As you tell the Christmas story, your child can help you open up the different pieces to the manger scene. It can be done 10 days leading up to Christmas, or you can tell the whole story and open them the same day. See the book here.
- Birthday Cake for Jesus
I had every intention of doing this last year: I bought the cake mix and frosting, but we didn't ever get around to it! Thankfully, my kids were only 2 years and 7 months old last year, so they won't even remember. But, this year, I'd like to make a birthday cake for Jesus. I'd like to bake it on Christmas Eve and ice it and eat it together on Christmas day.
I know this is a controversial topic, but that’s okay. This is simply what we believe is right for our family, and each family has to decide what is best for them. My husband and I both grew up in homes where we believed in Santa, even though much of the focus was on the birth of Jesus and we don’t regret anything about that. My husband and I have prayed through whether or not we should let our kids believe in Santa and it has been a tough decision for us. We do not want other people to think that we are judging them if we choose not to believe and we don’t want our children to “ruin it” for other children either. But, after much prayer and discussion, we both felt uneasy about having our children believe in Santa. And, we couldn’t let the opinions of others be our only reason for letting our kids believe, either. So, we have decided to listen to our conviction and not celebrate Santa. We do not think Santa is bad or offensive, but we simply want to be obedient to what we feel is right for our family.
One thing that confirmed this thinking in our hearts was when I read this out of Noel’s book:
“Santa is much like what we’re trying all year to teach our children about God. Look at the attributes of Santa:
He’s omniscient- he sees everything you do.
He rewards you if you’re good.
He’s omnipresent- at least, he can be everywhere in one night.
He gives you good gifts.
He’s the most famous “old man in the sky” figure
But at the deeper level that children can’t comprehend yet, he is not like God at all. For example, what about Santa’s spying and then rewarding you if you’re good enough? That’s not the way God operates. He gave us his gift—his Son—even though we weren’t good at all.”
Again, I don’t think that anything is “wrong” with celebrating Santa, but I think we should follow through with the conviction God gives us on the matter. Above all, we should make sure our children are surrounded by the true meaning of Christmas too.
As we think through some special traditions we want our family to enjoy, may we remember that we have an opportunity each day to help our children see the love of Christ. Will we take time to slow down, read the Bible with them and point them to our Savior, or will we let the busyness of life keep us from focusing on Him?
What are some of your family traditions???