ChrtiDo you have Christmas traditions? I hope so. This is the time of year to revive them or create new ones. Traditions are important and they connect us to history. Memories are kept alive and then passed down through the generations. Traditions bond us to one another and build community. They create positive moments and bring comfort and security to families. In other words, traditions anchor family members to each other. Year after year, traditions bring a continuity to life, a marking of time and memories.

If you don’t have holiday traditions, it’s never too late to create them. Anyone can begin to establish Christmas traditions.  Here are a few tried and true traditions to consider:

  1. Do an Advent calendar or wreath. OK, it may be a little late this year to begin this tradition. Growing up, this was not a tradition in our household. However, once I learned about Advent and the meaning of the candles, we created our own Advent wreath and bought an Advent calendar. The wreath and calendar were a signal that the holiday season had begun. Both were used as a countdown to Christmas. The Advent calendar ( pieces of the Christmas story that stuck to a felt calendar) helped our children learn the Christmas story at a young age. We also lit the Advent wreath candle each Sunday of Advent and talked about the spiritual meaning.
  2. Participate in charities. This time of year, there are ample ways to give and help the needy. Take an angel off the Angel Tree at your church and shop for gifts as a family. Allow your children to pick out gifts for other children. Or give food to pantries, drop off centers or grocery stores. Fill a Samaritan’s Christmas shoe box. Give to the Salvation Army bell ringers. Be generous.
  3. Find a light display and make it part of your tradition. When we lived in Virginia Beach, there was an annual Christmas light show on the boardwalk of the beach called, Lights on the Beach. You could purchase hot chocolate at the entrance, listen to a radio station with Christmas music and drive on the boardwalk through the display of the 12 days of Christmas. Every year, we did it as a family as part of our Christmas tradition. Find a lighting display in your hometown and make it a yearly event.
  4. Make a few of your own decorations like a popcorn or paper garland. Put on the Christmas music and decorate the tree as a family. Some families are very creative and make their ornaments and have elaborate decorations. Even the outing to purchase a tree can become a family tradition, especially if you find a tree farm and cut your own. You can also make a gingerbread house. If you are ambitious, you can bake the pieces from scratch (see You Tube) or buy a kit to assemble and decorate. Big and little kids enjoy this as it provides a fun activity together.
  5. Read the Christmas story before you open gifts. Children can act out parts, or you can take turns reading portions of the story. Give thanks for the gift of God’s Son and celebrate the birth of the Savior with a birthday cake. Also, make it a tradition to go to a Christmas eve service to hear the story read. This brings the true meaning of Christmas front and center.

There are many more traditions you can establish that your family will remember in years to come and pass on to their children. This holiday season, create memories and continue those Christmas traditions!

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