Christmas traditions…watching Christmas specials on TV, setting up a Christmas tree, listening to Christmas songs, singing Christmas carols, setting up a manger scene, spending money to buy gifts, sharing cookies, sending cards, opening gifts, attending Christmas eve services, etc., etc. I’m sure we all have numerous Christmas traditions that we enjoy. I know a family that sets up their manger scene minus the wise men and minus the baby Jesus. The wise men are found resting in another room in the house as they “travel” toward the manger. Jesus is nowhere to be found. As Christmas day approaches, the wise men “travel” closer to the manger while Jesus remains conspicuously absent. Every day, the children search for the wise men and ask about the baby Jesus. Christmas morning, the baby Jesus finally arrives in the stable and the family celebrates by exchanging gifts. The next day, the wise men arrive at the stable and everyone celebrates Jesus by bringing Him their gifts.
Why do we invest so much energy in traditions? What makes them worthwhile? Here are just a few reasons why experts believe that traditions, not just at Christmas time, are so important to family life.
Traditions allow families put their beliefs into practice. They impart family values to the next generation and establish a family identity. For instance, buying gifts communicates generosity and puts that generosity into practice. Setting up a nativity helps establish a family identity as one that believes in the birth of Christ. These same traditions, and any other traditions you enjoy, celebrate family, intimacy, and life.
Traditions also reinforce the comfort and security of family members by establishing predictable plans and activities. They give family members something to look forward to, an enjoyable time to anticipate. Because traditions are repeated, family members anticipate their next occurrence and plan their schedules accordingly. The anticipation of a fun tradition encourages family members to make an intentional effort to spend time together. Children, especially, seem to benefit from the predictability of tradition. If the adults attempt to set a tradition aside, the children often remember it and ask that it be continued. It helps increase their sense of comfort and security in the family.
Family traditions involve the whole family…and, they take time. In order for a tradition to be successful, we have to carve out enough time to slow down and enjoy it. That time allows families to build stronger relationships, share love, and enjoy greater intimacy. Whether filled with laughter and fun or intimacy and thought, the time invested in family traditions always add wonderful memories of love, joy, and family to our lives.
So, go ahead…enjoy a Christmas tradition or two…or three…or more. Make them part of your family life and allow them to help your family grow. To help us all enjoy more family time, perhaps you could share any unique traditions your family enjoys? How do you celebrate your family life during this Christmas season? If you would, please take the time to share the Christmas traditions you and your family enjoy. Go to our Facebook page and tell us about your tradition. Or, make a comment here to tell us about your traditions. We’d love to hear from you.