As our family has grown and matured, our tradition has changed a bit throughout the years.
When my grandchildren were toddlers, our family (Papaw down through the tiniest) have annually participated in a simple rendition of the nativity story.
The first year there were 3 toddlers. Costumes were created from towels and blankets. Papaw read the Luke 2 rendition - with pause for the family to create the different scenes.
As the families grew (now there are 10 grandchildren) --- scenes were recreated per family. One family became the shepherds, another - the wise men, one -the Holy family. We always finished with singing a Joy to the World and Silent Night --- closing in prayer thanking God for sending Jesus to our world.
The toddlers are teens now and looking back it is fun to remember our nativity traditions. The participation has changed some during the years.
One year, we had a trip to Bethlehem (our yard) by pretend caravan. We arrived at the manger scene (our barn) to find Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus and shepherds. (A friend's family reenacted the manger scene for us and surprised the kids that year).
Another year, we have had a scavenger hunt for the nativity pieces - bringing them together to tell the story of the birth of Christ.
We have had a silhouette cut-out puppet show telling the story.
As the grandchildren grew to preteens, one year we took a couple of weekends prior to Christmas Eve and video taped them outside reenacting the nativity - with no adults involved.
One of their dads edited the tape and added a simple graphic title page and music to the video. The kids loved seeing themselves and have enjoyed viewing other years since.
Last year - each family told their favorite part of the nativity and led the rest of the family in a Christmas carol.
Three things have never changed; reading the true story from the Bible, singing carols together, and the prayer thanking God for Jesus.
As I grow older --- I feel a bit like Mary in that the times we have shared together honoring the birth of Jesus are such special gifts to me ---- I have taken these moments and love pondering them in my heart.
We always celebrate Christmas as Jesus' Birthday We have a decorated birthday cake and the manger
scene under the tree - at the very front. Packages are placed
behind it. We read the Christmas story and sing happy birthday
When starting their own family Christmas tradition my son and
daughter-in-law decided to give three gifts to each of their children
and to each other, because the Bible records the three gifts that
Jesus received from the wise men. I think it's a wonderful idea and it
cuts down on shopping stress and greed and helps keep the focus on
A Christmas tradition I have with my four grandchildren is to take
them to Big Lots and Wal-Mart to buy items to put in a shoebox for
Operation Christmas Child. They each do a box for a child their own
age and gender.
I love this saying, "Have a 'Mary' (not a 'Martha') Christmas!
Take time to sit at Jesus' feet this busy Christmas season!
When my children (I have five - youngest is now 18) were very young I began making a
Christmas eve. At Thanksgiving we discussed the year and came
up with a piņata which represented something from the year past. I
learned to make paper mache piņatas in the fourth grade, more than
forty years ago...we have never missed a year and the older my
children got the more intense the suggestions for a piņata and the
tougher I've had to make them (strength wise that is) Everyone
brings a bag or two of their favorite candies. We invite
friends every now and than and they really get into it....it is
great....We also have the little ones make stick puppets for the
nativity and then put on a show from behind the couch. Christmas
morning is not the same without Christmas tree shaped pancakes....by
drizzling a pattern then filling it in ... EVERYONE gets a huge
homemade sock...I used old pillowcases (two of my children still
have their original socks-close to 30 years old) which I fill
to the brim with anything I can think of...I wrap Everything taking
hours to wrap. I have wrapped a single quarter to toilet
paper...lemons, bananas, plastic Santa rings, cans of soup...you
name it...it takes us an hour to unwrap everything but my kids,
grandkids, boyfriends, girlfriends, grandparents, service
buddies, and anyone else who may be spending Christmas with us
would have it no other way.
At the beginning of Advent we place our Nativity Set on display in a
prominent part of our home. Each day afterwards one of our children
the three kings closer to Jesus, finally arriving at the manger
scene on Christmas Day. (I know of
others who have done this with the baby Jesus instead or have the
Kings arrive on Epiphany Sunday.)
It's a happy
memory for us! One day
those three kings could be on top of the armoire or on the piano,
another day they might be in the kitchen or under the coffee table! It
was always fun to see how far they had "traveled."
Like most other families, our traditions are not the same as when we
were first married. At that time we always went to visit parents
and grandparents When the eldest generation became great grandparents
we still went to them, until they all went to heaven. Then our parents
began coming to our home for a Christmas vacation w/their
grandchildren. Changes came about though the year my husband was
hospitalized over Christmas. The staff there was great and they
made the day as pleasant as possible under the circumstances.
The following year, and for about 6 more to follow, we went back to
the hospital on Christmas day to sing carols for the staff. We invited
2 other families to join us so we had a few more voices, took plates
of cookies and sang our way through the corridors of the little
hospital. Since it is so small, less than 40 beds, we went to each
dept:- admitting, emergency, med/surgical, the kitchen- and sang a few
songs in each area. One year there was a new baby in the OB ward, too.
The yearly trip was our way of returning the blessing to those who
served us so faithfully.
One tradition that hasn't changed is caroling w/our church in mid-Dec.
and also attending the Candlelight Service on Christmas
Eve. These are times of great joy for all who attend. Some of our
college students look forward to the caroling so much that they
their best to arrange their schedules to arrive home in time to
participate. If your church doesn't have these activities in place
there is still time to make plans for this year. The memories everyone
will make are part of what will help to bind all those involved into a
true church family.
Thanks for all the ideas we are able to share in this forum.
The Marshall Family
What a great idea to put together holiday family traditions for young
families! So many of us are disconnected from our extended
families and don't know where to start. Many of our traditions come
from our church - like Christmas play or caroling with the youth group.
Our big family tradition is that we see family on Thanksgiving and
stay home for Christmas! From the 1st year we had kids, I promised
that home is where Christmas is so that the kids wouldn't be
overwhelmed and we could focus on the real meaning of the season. But
after Thanksgiving dinner, we always compete in a different twist on
gingerbread houses. We make pretzel log cabins and tree houses. Only
your imagination will limit you. Since pretzels come in all shapes and
sizes anymore, we gather all month long and ask others to bring bags
of uniquely shaped pretzels. We have even used dry cereal to add some
decorations! Usually we use peanut butter for the glue but one year we
had a relative attending that had a peanut allergy and we substituted
mashed potatoes and cheese whiz. The little children to the
grandparents have a blast with this and it brings everyone together,
rather than the kids being excused and the adults sitting around
chatting, with teenagers bored out of their minds. It's an
intergenerational event that really works. After a day or two, we take
them out to the woods to let the animals have their own feast. I would
love to hear others' ideas.
Children and Youth Coordinator
Covenant Central Presbyterian Church
My tradition started about four years ago. We celebrate
Christmas in our Sunday school. Luckily I have been directing
our ministry since then so whether we are allowed to do it every year
it has not been a problem. Every year, the Sunday before
Christmas, we get all of our classes together and the kids make ginger
bread stables. The kids decorate the stable with candy and
candy animals. They spend all Sunday morning creating their
stable. After they are done, they vote to see who is the prettiest of
all. We give the child a present for using his/her imagination.
Some classes participate in secrete Santa and we use the time to do
that as well.
*If you are interested in learning more about our Sunday school
traditions e-mail me at Ramirezedg@Yahoo.com Edgar Ramirez
Started New Christmas
A few years ago
1) Began making ornaments for our
tree (1 per night) on the first day of November. By the end of the
month we have plenty to decorate our tree with.
2) We make a family advent calendar
in which we do an activity together each evening in the days leading
up to Christmas...it might be to watch a movie together, to deliver
cookies to shut-ins, or to play a board game.
3) On Christmas Eve, we all get a new
pair of PJs. The kids get excited about going to bed in something
new on Christmas eve...plus as an added bonus, everyone looks their
best in those early Christmas morning photos!
We have several traditions in our family...Not on purpose one year we decided to "fondue" on Christmas Eve before attending the Candlelight Service. The following year I asked everyone what they wanted to eat on Christmas Eve and the kids chimed in together "fondue" of course. My children are 24 and 30 and we still celebrate our fondue tradition. We have been blessed with a son-in-law and one granddaughter and another one on the way who are now a part of this
When our children were little I began purchasing a Christmas ornament (that related to some highlight in their life that year) each year for them to open when we decorated our Christmas tree. Even they are grown we continue this tradition. The love to look over the decorated tree each year and talk about old memories and their special ornaments. My daughter has begun this tradition with our granddaughter.
Each year, I purchase a new Christmas book (there are so many wonderful ones that tell the real meaning of Christmas) that is wrapped and put under the tree. Each book is dated and it's great fun to pull them out each year and display them in a basket to read and enjoy.
I am a game lover so I also purchase a new game each year, wrap it and put it under the tree to play on Christmas day.
We also have the tradition of new "jammies" each year.
Connecting Children & Families to Jesus,
Linda Annett, Minister of Children
Fellowship Reformed Church