One of my favorite Christmas traditions growing up involved fondue. That’s right.
And this was back in the 70s when it was not even retro yet. Every Christmas Eve we would have a candlelit dinner together as a family and we’d have fondue. Mom had marinated steak and then we’d cook it right there on the table. My sister and I thought this was so cool. After the dinner was over, we’d then gather around the Christmas tree and get to open one gift. It was never the BIG gift… Santa brought that the next morning, but one gift that gave us something to play with before the 11:00 Candlelight service at church. Sometime around 9:00 we’d leave the house and go look at Christmas lights and eventually end up at the church for the service. I often slept, but when I was awake I was filled with wonder at the holy moments in the room. I’ve never forgotten this tradition and there are elements my wife and I incorporate into our own home with our kids.
We all have our Christmas traditions. For some it involves the shows we watch on TV – Elf, Rudolph, Christmas Vacation, Miracle on 34th Street or It’s a Wonderful Life. For many it involves the music we listen to – Bing Crosby, James Taylor, The Carpenters, even George Michael. It happens with food – making sugar cookies, fudge, pies, and figgy pudding (well, maybe not). There are traditions involving Santa, Rudolph and the Elf on the Shelf. And there are traditions we’d rather not have that seem to always involve family – things that rival Cousin Eddie showing up in the RV.
Whatever yours are… can I encourage you to think about adding these two if you haven’t already?
1. Start a giving list.
All of our kids, and us for that matter, have a “what I want for Christmas” list. It is focused on all the toys and gadgets and clothes that will make our lives better. Try starting a list of what you are giving to others outside the family. Obviously we think of food shelters, toys for tots and gift drives. But what about the postal worker who brings your mail, the barista who remembers your drink order, and the cashier you always see. Think of creative ways as a family to bless others. My wife Lorrie is so good at this. She has us constantly thinking of neighbors and service workers whose Christmas we could make better. I know I’m a more generous person because of it.
2. Make Christmas Eve service a priority.
I can think of no better way to get Christ into your family than to put him in your traditions. So many people we see at one of our Christmas Eve services are there because they grew up going to Christmas mass, and now that they have a family, they want to return. What’s great about that is they end up coming back in January. Then the often come for Easter. Many people at our church can trace their spiritual journey back to a holiday service. Another great way to put Christ back in Christmas is by following an Advent calendar. These are easy to find, often include chocolate, and become something the kids look forward to.
I could go on an on, but I thought if I just list two… then you might be more likely to take me up on them. But those are just my ideas. What are yours?