Are Your Christmas Traditions Life-Giving or Life-Draining?

This time of year, Christmas traditions are the one thing we all have in common. Not all of our traditions are the same, but we all have them. 

There are traditions about what food should be eaten at Christmas dinner. And traditions about when and where Christmas gifts should be opened. Some families have a theme every Christmas as their tradition, while other families make a tradition out of looking at Christmas lights. Some families serve dinner at homeless shelters or give gifts to an Angel Tee program. Then there are the Christmas movies and music that families make sure to play every year, because….it’s your family tradition.

I’m not knocking tradition, in fact, I love the traditions my husband and I have made for our family.

A few weeks ago, I got to sit down with some of my favorite girl friends and I asked this one question, “What is your favorite Christmas memory?”

I enjoyed hearing each of their Christmas memories but the neat thing was most of their answers were centered around traditions.

All of our traditions are tied to a memory — special memories.  Those memories become sacred to us, regardless of how silly or minute they are, they’re special none the less. We create traditions to remember those memories and add to them.

Traditions are meant to be soul care for us, they are meant to refresh our memories for the good.

But I think it would be short sighted if I didn’t say, that some traditions just don’t refresh our soul — they drain us.

You know the ones I’m talking about. The traditions that you inwardly (or outwardly) sigh about. The one’s you dread every year.

May I propose, that this year while you are celebrating Christmas, that you would first and foremost…

  • Focus on doing the traditions that are life giving to you and your family — the traditions that help to knit your family together and remind you of the reason for Christmas. 

For example, my kids ask every year, “When do we get to make Jesus’ birthday cake?” We all love doing this and it is life-giving to all of us.

  • Secondly, if there is a tradition that you dread, see if you are the only one who dreads it. If you are, check your heart, think about why this tradition bothers you, and talk to God about that. Maybe your perspective needs to change or, maybe it’s a tradition that only you like and nobody else cares for. If so, you could just do that tradition by yourself.

I’m the only one in my family that likes egg nog. I not only like egg nog for the taste, but I am reminded of the Christmas’s with my family when I was a kid. I don’t force my children to drink it, because frankly, I don’t want to hear them complain and ruin my enjoyment of my egg nog. So, I just enjoy it myself.

  • Thirdly, if there is a tradition that nobody likes, maybe your family could figure out how to tweak that tradition or add to it, to make it more enjoyable. If you can’t figure out a solution, then maybe that tradition needs to stop.

The year our family decided to stop having Turkey at Christmas, one family member was upset about the change, they believed the main course was the reason for the meal. The whole point of the meal is not about what food you eat but about who your eating it with. That brings me to my next point…

  • Try to remember the reason for the tradition. The main course of a meal or which family member tells the nativity story should not dictate if you can or cannot enjoy a tradition. If it does, check your heart.

And lastly,

  • Don’t be afraid to make new traditions. Pay attention to the things that cultivate joy, laughter and love within your family, those are great fodder for a new tradition. Those traditions will be unique to your family, but they will be yours, along with the memories that are made. Each family is different so I would expect every tradition to be different, and that’s okay!

The bottom line, is to not let traditions hinder what Christmas is really about. The traditions that come along with Christmas are to be life-giving soul care. So as you celebrate Christmas this year, focus on doing the traditions that are life-giving to you and your family.  Those are special memories that knit the hearts of a family together, and the memories that carry on for generations.

So, what are your favorite Christmas traditions? Would you please share them, I would love to hear them!

Until next time…




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