Christmas Traditions – 12 Days Of Christmas
By Steph Nickel
Stephanie continues her series entitled “The 12 Days of Christmas,” by considering Christmas traditions. Steph discusses the value of instilling traditions of lasting, eternal value.
Family traditions can bring back a flood of happy memories. They can give us a sense of belonging and security. They can be a treasure we pass along to our children.
For years Christmas was associated with specific treats my mom used to make. The tradition of coconut marshmallow squares and brownies with mint-flavoured icing began with her, but the tradition of homemade Scottish shortbread was a one that started with my grandmother, maybe even before that. And yes, each year my mom would spend hours preparing and baking fruitcake from scratch. It smelled incredible, but it wasn’t a hit with most of us. That tradition was set aside a very long time ago.
Over the years other traditions have been set aside as well. Though now that I’m thinking about them, I just may dig up the recipes for the marshmallow squares and brownies when I head to my family’s home for Christmas.
Traditions With Eternal Value
And those get-togethers are something I hope won’t cease for a very long time. Not all of us can be together anymore (though thankfully, modern technology has made it possible to Skype with those even thousands of miles away). If those of us who are still nearby stop gathering, it will be a sad day.
No matter how enjoyable our favourite foods and even our family gatherings, there is a tradition that is much more important, one that has eternal value.
Throughout the Bible we read time and again that we are to pass along the stories of how God has dealt with His children throughout the millennia.
Deuteronomy 11:18-19 says,
“You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul … You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
“When you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” It doesn’t sound like there’s anytime we are not to be teaching our children about the Lord. I admit I have fallen short of this goal every single day. And yet, I pray that my life will increasingly bear witness to what God has done and what He is doing.
Establishing Godly Traditions
And just how can we establish the tradition of making the Lord known at every opportunity?
First, I think it would be wonderful to jot down how the Lord has dealt with us over the years, what we have learned about Him during happy times and during difficult times. I once wrote a poem based on this theme. But whether you consider yourself a writer or not, you have stories and insights to share.
We must set aside time to read His Word with our family regularly—preferably every day.
We should often review what we learn from the Scriptures. It’s too easy to think, “Oh! I already know this story” and forget that there is always something new to learn even from familiar passages. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve re-read a portion of God’s Word only to ask, “God, when did You put that in there?” There are countless factors that determine what stands out to us at any given time.
Biblical Characters And Present Hardships
When we are facing difficult times, we should remind ourselves how the Lord took care of biblical characters who faced hardship. We can also discuss how He helped us personally in the past. Although He doesn’t deal with each person or each situation in exactly the same way, we can learn about His unchanging character from His past dealings.
It’s important to memorize Romans 8:28, which says,
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
This is an amazing promise to hold onto, especially when life is difficult.
We may want to keep a family journal of what we learn about God and how He has helped others—and us—in the past. We may also want to include how He has worked challenging situations out for our good. This will give us the opportunity to review these accounts when we face challenges in the future.
And when it comes to this time of year, why not establish Advent traditions? Do something special with your family every day of Advent in preparation for Christmas Day. This will help keep the focus on Jesus, where it belongs.
May we get into the habit of discussing God and His Word in our homes and when we’re out and about, when we’re headed for bed and when we get up in the morning. May these discussions overflow from hearts filled with wonder and from minds focused on Him.
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Images courtesy of:
Christmas cookies – Michele L
Ice Nativity Scene – Jenny Rollo
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