Unfortunately, when my first three children were in their childhood years I did not totally understand the importance to kids of family traditions. Yes, I know they complain about some of them, but, overall they love the stability of being able to predict certain things that will happen each year seasonally. They even carry those emotional life markers into their adult years. Case in point…I once had a friend whose son right in the middle of the holiday dinner declared at the top of his voice, “This isn’t Christmas! We don’t have English peas on the table for dinner!” Who would have thought that English peas could be possibly be important to a young boy?!
Well, I think you get the idea. I think we all carry over from childhood simple memories like “This is what the house should smell like at Christmas!” So, my challenge to you is to begin a few, simple to carryout and meaningful traditions with your family at this Christmas season. Here are just a few that have worked in my family:
- We always try to go to church together on Christmas Eve OR have a family time of celebration with the Christmas story Bible reading, songs and prayer. (And some years…we do both!)
- One of my favorites each year with my kids was “Daddy Dates” and “Mommy Dates.” Each child got one special night with Daddy and Mommy all to himself, separately. On that date, the child got an envelope with money to take Daddy to dinner on his date and Mommy to dinner on her date. The child got to choose the restaurant. And then, after eating, each child got to shop with that parent for the other parent’s gift. My wife and I would also include shopping for some of the child’s siblings.
- The Christmas Straw activity was also one of my favorite. All through the month of December each family member was challenged to perform secretly random acts of kindness for other family members. Each time an act of kindness was completed, the child got to place a piece of straw in the manger. At our family Christmas celebration, Baby Jesus would be placed on the straw that had accumulated in the manger throughout the month. We all worked hard to not only love on other family members, but, prepare a very soft bed for the Baby Jesus.
- Take an annual photo of the grandkids every Christmas! (Below is the 2011 photo of Vogel grandkids!