Building Holiday Traditions within Your Family by Linda MacKillop {GIVEAWAY}

Making Christmas Traditions

As the product of a broken home, building a sense of safety, security, and continuity in the lives of my four sons became a priority as they grew up. We wanted them to have a strong foundation filled with assurance that certain activities would happen on a regular basis, and ultimately showing them the steadiness of both their parents and God. In the midst of a changing world, we wanted them to count on certain events returning each year, each month, each day—like dad coming home from work in the evening, mom being available after school, supportive family members to show up for their activities, and the fun of birthday and holiday celebrations.

Traditions mark the arrival of a special event, but they also provide sought-after predictability and continuity. Holiday traditions, in particular, mark special occasions as both a promise that the celebration returns yearly and as a reminder to kids that some days stand out more than other days because they are the basis and reminders of our faith. These moments are so important and influential that we celebrate them with regularity. By tradition, we remember Christ’s sacrifice weekly or monthly (depending on your church tradition) by taking Communion. By tradition, we baptize our children. By tradition, we baptize them into the faith through the passing on of knowledge through stories and reading.

In our home, we had traditions for each holiday, Christmas especially. While struggling to celebrate this most commercial of American holidays without letting the secular emphasis take over, we found a mixture of fun traditions balanced with sacred traditions that did the trick for us. We always had similar food each year, and the food is still expected today, now that our sons are grown. Chinese food on Christmas Eve (because way back when, most other restaurants closed on Christmas Eve so people could celebrate the holiday); sour cream coffee cake made from scratch on Christmas morning; and turkey, Ritz cracker stuffing, corn pudding, and pumpkin chiffon pie arrived at the table for Christmas dinner.

I find my sons must think about these dishes before they come home for the holiday, because they most certainly expect to see them on the table when they arrive. In addition to food, we always read the Christmas story, set up a manger scene in our living room, set out luminaries to light our way after the Christmas Eve service into the house, and watch It’s a Wonderful Life.

M is for Manger

Age-appropriate reading material, in addition to the Bible story about Christ’s birth, also offers the opportunity to teach about Christ’s entrance into the world. M is for Manger by Crystal Bowman is a wonderful book as the youngest children among you to begin to learn the great story of Christ’s arrival. This book is designed to become a family classic you will be able to return to each year until your children outgrow its simple format—unless they request the familiar story be read again – even to their own children.

Someday your family traditions may have to morph, and may disappear altogether as parents age, but for now, bask in the safety and warmth of them. Each family needs to develop their own traditions, but we suggest you begin with an idea as simple as M is for Manger that allows you to begin tradition-building early. Gather your young ones together this holiday season and form some lasting memories.


More about M is for Manger: Travel through the alphabet with this beautiful rhyming storybook that tells the story of Jesus’ birth. Begin with the angel who tells Mary that she is God’s chosen vessel and follow along until you reach the zillions of stars that paled in comparison to the star that announced the birthplace of the newborn King. Beautifully illustrated and written, this book will be a classic for parents to read to their children every Christmas season.

Sneak peek:
Mary gently wrapped her son,
then rested in the shed.
She placed the newborn Savior
in a MANGER for his bed.

Want to win a copy of M is for Manger? Leave a comment telling us about your favorite Christmas family tradition! We will choose five winners on October 16th. [GIVEAWAY CLOSED]

Congratulations to our winners!

  • Lacey
  • Maddy
  • Amy Tolley
  • Jennifer Cervantes
  • Maryann

Weekend Links

Have a wonderful week! 

Weekend Links


Have a wonderful week!

Pumpkin Deliciousness for Fall

pumpkin recipes

Need a new pumpkin recipe for the season, to make with your kids or for a fall festival? Here are some of my personal favorites and a few I haven’t tried … yet.

What’s your favorite pumpkin recipe?

Weekend Links

Enjoy these links as you start the new week! 

Weekend Links

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Always on the Sunny Side

BV - Romans 8 28
source: nlcwood via Flickr

I was laying face-down on the table at my chiropractor’s the other day when I listened to one of the most depressing conversations I’ve ever heard between my chiro, Dr. C, and the person on the other table. No, she wasn’t telling about people dying, mortal peril, or sickness. It was just … sad. It went something like this.

Dr. C: What do you do for Labor Day?

Her: I think I slept through part of it. And then sat there.

Dr. C: Oh. You didn’t do anything with the so-and-so’s?

Her: They all went camping. I didn’t go. Too much chance of rain.

The woman complained about the way Dr. C was doing her adjustment, how she had to wait, about her pain level, her family and more. Everything she said was in an Eeyore-tone, pessimist to the core.

I’ll admit that I fall on the side of optimist. Recently my best friend contacted me to tell me she had a mass in her colon. They were doing a biopsy. And I was sure that it wouldn’t be cancerous. Just positive! She is 33, after all, like me.

It was cancer.

I felt silly that I had been so optimistic about it. I simply can’t bear to let myself think of worst-possible-scenarios when it comes to others. Maybe it’s too many years of struggling with depression, but I just cannot let my brain go there. I have to stay on the sunny side, or I will drift off into insanity.

And really, what good comes from pessimism? This Bible says, “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28, ESV). We know Who is going to win in the end. We have confidence in the hope of heaven. I believe Christians should be living with one foot in heaven, focused not on each worldly nuisance but on the larger scope.

Yes, God lives in our day-to-day. For that, we can give great thanks! And because we have great hope, we can rise above negativity with the power of His Spirit.

I never want to miss out on what God has for me in terms of relationships or service or anything because there’s “too much chance of rain.” I don’t act happy when I’m not or put on a show for people. But I do truly believe, deep-down, that everything is in His hands and will work out for good. That is the joy of Christ!

And for that reason, I will never be a pessimist.

How about you?

Jessie WeaverJessie Weaver is the mom of three little ones (6, 4, and 2) in Chattanooga, TN. She is a freelance writer and editor and manager of the ParentLife Online community.

Weekend Links

Have a lovely holiday weekend!

Four Fun Ways to Help Your Kids Love the Bible (GIVEAWAY)

BBB Sheep cover

As Christian parents, we want our children to develop a love for Christ and know that the stories in His Word are true and still meaningful today. So, how do you foster a love of God’s word in your children? How do you encourage them to appreciate the Bible, make it applicable to real life, and continue to read it as they grow older? Start when they are young! Make the Bible come alive to them as you share stories that capture their imaginations and teach them about the character of God.

Kids love to interact with books and the stories they tell. However, in this time of digital, interactive, and animated content, children expect to be entertained more than ever before. Providing a way for them to learn more about God without staring at a screen of some kind is becoming much harder to do – but it is not impossible. Below are some ways you can make learning about the Bible fun without the help of tablets, TV, or any other type of screen.

  • Find books that encourage your little ones to act out the stories you are telling. Watching them as they pretend to walk on water or pretend to see for the first time will be fun for you and for them.
  • As you read through a book with your child, think about ways you can put the lessons learned into practice. Some examples would be taking dinner to a sick friend, cleaning up the neighbor’s yard, or sponsoring a child who needs help. Plan together and help others!
  • Create small craft projects that help them remember and engage with the stories you read together. Some craft ideas include:
    – Have them find as many pictures of bread and fish as they can and glue them into “baskets” showing God’s provision for our needs like the time Jesus took care of the 5,000 hungry people who were listening to Him teach
    – Use brad fasteners to create a movable scene retelling the parting of the Red Sea for the Israelites
    – Let them color Joseph’s coat of many colors with their own design
    – Be creative and come up with ideas of your own!
  • Find books that have creative formats that will engage your kids. And what is more fun than a book that is also a toy? Bouncy Bible Buddies are fun, interactive, engaging stories from the Bible written for kids 3-6 years old. The easy grip handles turn these lovable animals into carry along friends. Push the handle down to make them bounce! This creative and fun design will draw little ones in time after time and help them learn more about God’s word and His love for them. Daniel in the Lion’s Den and The Lost Sheep are available now!

There are many benefits to sharing these experiences with your children. You will build a stronger relationship as you spend time together, your child will learn to love God’s word, and who knows – you might even learn a few things yourself.

Want to win some adorable Bible Buddies for yourself? Enter using the Rafflecopter below. Each winner will receive BOTH Daniel in the Lion’s Den and The Lost Sheep!

BBB LION cover

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday Links

Have a blessed weekend, do something that scares you, live with joy.