It’s Christmas Day!!!
I love the Advent/Christmas season! It is probably my favourite time of the year, and I think that it is the anticipation that makes it all worth while, and it’s the traditions that help to build that anticipation.
Growing up we never had any specific traditions that I remember, other than decorating the Christmas Tree and the house with tinsel. But after my wife and I got married, and especially after we had our kids, we wanted to develop Christmas traditions of our own.
Over the last eight years we have tried a number of different ones, some have stuck, while others haven’t but we’ve tried to make sure that all of our different traditions point us back to the story of Jesus’ coming in the flesh at the first Christmas, and what that means for each of us as the Light of the World enters the darkness to bring Good News.
I want to start with some tips on creating an Advent/Christmas tradition that will help you to implement these.
- Make them regular. Have them happen each year, have them be something that marks the time out as a different season for the kids.
- Integrate them into your normal family practices. Have them happen around meals and bedtimes etc.
- Make them meaningful. Have some traditions that mean something more than we just do it like that in our family! Pick some things that point back to the deeper meaning of Christmas, things that might lead to deeper, wonderful conversations about what it is that we believe.
- Start off simple. Pick one and try that one out. Don’t go all out and buy supplies for the next 10 Christmas seasons only to find it doesn’t work!
- Don’t stress! This is not something to add to your stress, Advent is about slowing down and waiting, so make sure that you do! Have the traditions that you create fit with this theme of slowing and waiting.
So with that being said here are 5 Advent traditions that you can try with your family next year:
1. Decorate a Christmas Tree
This is something that is easy to incorporate into what you do, simply because most people do this already. however, you can be intentional about how you do it with by selecting the decorations to reflect the story of Christmas – using figures like angles, shepherds, or other figures from the Nativity story, topping it all off with a star – or you could simply talk about what the different elements of the tree mean – the evergreen tree is a symbol of the unending life that we have in Christ, the lights symbolise the light of the world, the baubles are symbols of the fruit on the tree of life in Revelation, the star is the herald of the birth of the Christ, etc. Take the time to talk about these, maybe over a couple of nights, and explain them to your kids, and the meanings behind them, these are not just things that we do, rather, they have a much deeper meaning and point to something and Someone far greater who has come into the world
2. Have and Advent Calendar
Another really easy thing to do. Just before the kids go to be have them open one of the flaps on an Advent calendar. They get to hear the Christmas story unfold over the 24 days leading up to Christmas Day, and if you get one that comes with chocolate, then they get to eat that as well! This is a really simple way to connect what is going on around them, and the season that everyone is in, to the true meaning, and why we celebrate in the first place. Here is a really cute one that you can buy on Amazon:
3. Light and Advent Candle
There are special candles that you can buy that have the days marked on them like and Advent calendar. All you do is, while you eat dinner, you light the candle, read a bible verse, and talk about it together. You may want to wait until the kids are a little bit older before starting this particular tradition, and have them take turns at lighting, reading, or blowing the candle out each day. Here are some links to a couple of candles as examples, that you might want to buy. we use the white one in our house, and it is awesome!
4. Do an Advent family devotion
There are so many great Bible reading plans out there, it can be hard to choose one! Btu the great thing is that you could do a different one each year and never repeat them! These are devotions that you could do around the family meal table while the Advent candle is burning, and talk it over with the kids, what the whole Christmas story is about. Here is a link to some reading plans that you might like to try:
5. Go to a midnight Christmas service
This is a fun one for the kids, because they get to stay out WAY past their bed time, and even – just maybe – they get to open one present before they go to sleep, since it is technically Christmas when they get home. It can be a real experience for them to sing carols and welcome in Christmas with a group of people who love Jesus, and who are excited that He has arrived in the world to bring about restoration. If you find a church that does a good service, then make it your place to be on Christmas Eve – but you might want to check it out yourself first, to make sure it’s appropriate to take the kids to!
So there you have some tips to help you create some Advent traditions, and 5 traditions that you might want to institute in your own family. There are many more that I may post on in future years – Jesus’ birthday cake is just one that we do as well! But that’s for another day! For now – have a very merry, safe, and blessed Christmastide!