Christmas traditions. They often define our holiday and bring meaning and joy. They’re comfortable—familiar—settling us with order during a busy season. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Christmas traditions, but if we’re not careful, they can work against us.
The frenzied pace of making sure we get every last detail in place. The endless glances at the calendar to make sure we have time to do this activity or that. The moments spent behind a camera lens to capture said traditions instead of living in the present with our kids.
Yes, Christmas traditions can be beautiful. And truth be told, I’m not ditching all of them. But I am ditching the idea of traditions simply for the sake of ticking off a checklist this year. (If you knew me and my checklists, you would realize this is a big statement.)
Here’s why it’s important to me.
1. I want space to be spontaneous and try something new with my family.
Early in our marriage, my husband and I had certain places we would go to see Christmas lights. Over the past few years, we’ve ventured out to try new places and have been filled with fresh wonder and awe. Those same places we visited before are still beautiful and worth visiting, but seeing something new has reawakened my love of the season, built memories as I’ve stood in awe with my kids, and shown me glimpses of God’s light in different ways.
2. I want to be more intentional in how I spend my time.
I’m all about traditions that exist simply to build fun memories with the ones I love. But if I have to choose, I want my family to prioritize the ones that have meaning beyond ourselves. For instance, a recent tradition we started is helping serve hot chocolate at our church during Christmas services. It gets my kids involved for a few hours. They roll up their sleeves and pitch in to welcome guests who’ve never set foot inside church before. They have a blast, we create memories, and it serves a bigger purpose.
3. I don’t want to feel chained to a checklist.
The holiday season is stressful enough. If I build such a big list of traditions that it requires a 24/7 effort, then I’ve gotten out of balance. My checklist this year will have some meaningful traditions, but there will be white space to slow down and refuel for the next event. (By the way, my kids will be much healthier and happier too, knowing they have some downtime to hang out as a family.)
4. I want my mind to be focused in the right place.
Jesus was born in a smelly barn on an unassuming night. The only bright lights and show that took place was out in a field where shepherds were doing their unassuming job. All of this happened so the Savior could walk and talk on earth and give eternal hope to little unassuming me. If my family traditions remind me of this, I’m all in. If they cause distraction and stress and we all lose sight of what the holiday is about, it’s not worth it. All that matters is Jesus. Traditions are just icing on the cake.
What about you? What traditions are you prioritizing this holiday? Which ones are you letting go of, and why? Share in the comments below.