We are notorious for holiday traditions around our house. Traveling to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee each Thanksgiving while singing Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer at the top of our city slicker lungs. Lunch at the Old Mill restaurant, visits to the pottery and candy stores. And the new tradition this year of the Alpine Coaster (photo below), whizzing down a Smoky Mountain with Sophia screaming, “Faster!” Memories that can’t be beat.
What we DON’T marvel in this time of year is technology. Whenever it is used, it is family-oriented. (We always watch the movie The Princess Bride Thanksgiving day and America’s Funniest Video Christmas Edition the night we put up our Christmas tree.)
I know I have been talking a lot about technology lately because honestly, screen time is a huge “stealer” of family time, identity, relationship, and time in God’s word. You can’t completely get rid of it, so Luke and I create pockets where it’s used to build family traditions. As parents, WE SET THE PACE WITH TECHNOLOGY!
You can, too.
If you are new to this whole parenting thing or want to start creating your own family traditions, let me encourage you to keep it simple. Here are some that we do that might inspire you:
Eggnog! It all started when Adam was 5. We read the Bible around the tree most nights and he sipped egg nog. Each year since, we’ve had egg nog on hand. The tradition has morphed into each of us having our own jug of the creamy concoction…labeled and designed by its owner. One half-gallon jug per person between the tree going up and Christmas day.
Advent Devotional Trilogy. One of our favorite pastimes is reading Arnold Ytreeide’s Advent devotional books. Advent runs December 3-24 this year, so you still have time to order one off of Amazon. (A little secret: We always get behind on our reading because of “life” so we’re notorious for binge reading sections of these books with eggnog in hand around the tree. Just keeping it real because that’s what it’s all about!)
Christmas Ornaments. I am a sucker for sentimental Christmas ornaments. I still have the L’eggs pantyhose egg I decoupaged in kindergarten and a drummer boy ornament I painted when I was in Brownies. I hang each with pride every year, and share childhood stories with our kids. (I wish we had some ornaments from Luke’s growing up years, but not everyone values that kind of thing.) Figure out what you value and want to pass onto your kids and stick with it each year.
I must confess I’ve taken my sentimental feeling about ornaments to a new level. Each year I get, or have the kids make, an ornament that highlights something special about that year. This way, when they leave home one day, a meaningful set of ornaments goes with them.
Door Wrapping. We wrap each child’s door in Christmas paper. A few tips: account for the doorknob when wrapping and ALWAYS use paper that’s wide enough to cover the entire door in one fell swoop. Trying to get short width paper to match up is a pain.
Whatever the tradition, keep it simple, fun, and stress-free for you.
Speaking of a stress-free holiday… What I DON’T DO are things that suck away time, energy, and my bandwidth of kindness. Elf on the Shelf? Posh! No time for that. Picture perfect wreaths, strung lights, and watered poinsettias? Uh….Nope. I would rather spend my time making special Christmas recipes, teaching my kids how to cook, reading Christmas favorites, singing carols, and playing games. In other words…making memories together!
Lastly, Memorable Toys. For us, it’s The Little People Nativity Set. We got it when Adam was a preschooler. It quickly makes an appearance once Christmas boxes are pulled out, and the kids descend! Yes, even the TEENAGER revels in playing with it a bit. We also have a spinning Christmas
tree candle the kids love, snow globes, and Nativity music boxes I have picked up in my travels.
Nostalgia dies hard around here, and I’m totally alright with that. If it’s building family memories and disconnecting us more and more from technology, I’m all for it.
Whatever traditions you create, keep family at the center. Do things that will span those childhood years, which believe it or not, fly by.
I would love to hear what Christmas traditions you make that create family memories. Share them with me below!
Be sure to watch for my future blog on The Meaning of Advent.
Paige Kolb is the president of SureFire Prayer International, a ministry that equips and trains families and leaders to practically bring biblical truth and prayer back into everyday life. Paige’s philosophy: “Healthy families make for healthy churches. I believe worldwide revival will be released when we help leaders and parents rediscover practical ways to bring prayer back into today’s busy homes.” Paige was once a writer for CNN and on-air correspondent for CNNRadio. She is a wife to her supportive husband, Luke, and mom to two amazing kids. You may contact her at here to find out about her speaking, training, and travel schedule.