With the sense of the holidays drawing near, all of a sudden, my mind is filled with all things Christmas. Like a cozy blanket, these cozy memories of family traditions—done year after year when I was a kid and now done with our own children—give me all the warm and fuzzy feelings. Some traditions go back to when I was a girl and the things my grandmother would highlight year after year. Some are simple things that we’ve come to do with our own kids each year, things we never intended to make into traditions, but thankful they found their way into that category. I remember when my kids were toddlers and I felt the pressure to do everything the Christmas season had to offer—bake Christmas cookies, go caroling, drive around and look at Christmas lights, make sure we watch all the Christmas movies, get matching Christmas pajamas, celebrate Advent, attend our church’s Christmas eve service in our new holiday outfits, and the list goes on and on. I learned over the years that what sticks with our kids is not so much the doing of all the things but the celebrating of the little things.
I remember feeling so much pressure to make sure that Jesus remained bigger than Santa that I struggled to teach my toddlers how Advent played a part. For a time their tiny minds were just simply caught up in the wonder and awe of the lights on the Christmas tree and not so much the baby in the manger. As they got older, I realized first that I didn’t totally fail as a parent teaching them what Christmas is all about. And secondly those tiny things we celebrated year after year laid a foundation in their hearts for what the true meaning of the season is.
They learned to show kindness to those less fortunate than us around the holidays by bringing food to fill the homeless baskets. We donated gently used jackets and gloves to help others stay warm. We spent time together as a family, cherishing the little moments and—yes—baking Christmas cookies.
What I didn’t realize was that, in a subtle way, I was showing them what Advent was all about and why we do it each Christmas. It was done in a way their then tiny minds could comprehend. Even though we celebrate Jesus all year long, we pause to remember that Jesus came to this earth and was born in a manger, and we anticipate His promised return.
These little things we do and the traditions we carry on are all ways to help us celebrate the season. Showing kindness to others, especially during the holidays, is how we can love like Christ wants us to love. And cherishing time with family and friends in fellowship teaches my children to thank God for His provisions and many blessings that past year. By carrying on little holiday traditions that point back to the heart of our heavenly Father, I celebrate the season and show my kids the true meaning of Christmas.