Each year families have traditions that they do during the Christmas season. Everything from when they put up the decorations, the kind of food and drink they have on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, how they go about celebrating Christmas, the opening of the presents, to which movies they always watch. There are many traditions that families have during this time of year.
[My Christmas movie list includes: White Christmas, A Christmas Story, Elf, Fred Claus, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation]
This year marks a new beginning in how my family will celebrate Christmas. So I thought I’d start a couple new traditions for how my children and I will celebrate Christmas together.
The first Christmas Tradition of ours that we started this year was to buy Christmas gifts for our sponsor child Yvette, who lives in Burundi. My children and I have been sponsoring her for a little over a year now, but last year we did not buy her any Christmas gifts. This year, as my children and I were all writing Christmas cards to send to Yvette, we decided to get her some gifts to go along with our cards. The organization we support Yvette through is Food for the Hungry, and they had sent a letter with a list of possible gift options that we could purchase to give Yvette and her family for Christmas this year. As I read the list to my children, they seemed a bit confused at first…the list was not like any list my children had written or read before.
Usually when we think of a Christmas list, it includes things like toys or gadgets or games or other personal items. But the list for Yvette and her family didn’t have any toys or gadgets or games. Rather, it had items such as goats, chickens, vegetable seeds, and buckets for storing clean drinking water.
Reading that list to my children sparked a good conversation. We spent time talking about how in many places around the world, people are so poor that they can barely afford food and clean water, much less extra things like toys to play with. Buying a goat or vegetable seeds or something similar gives them the ability to have food to eat. It was a good discussion and lesson for my children, because it can be easy for them to get caught up in their own little world and not think about what is going on in the rest of the world.
So we spent some time discussing what we’d like to give Yvette and her family for Christmas. My children decided that we would give them 2 chickens, a pack of vegetable seeds, and a Bible in their language. It was a very cool thing to be able to give someone in need some practical gifts for Christmas, and to help my children remember that we are are very blessed as well as to understand the importance of helping those in need.
The second Christmas Tradition of ours that we started this year was to make a list. Not the usual list of gift ideas, but rather a very different kind of list. I posed this question to my children: “if you didn’t get any gifts this year for Christmas, what 10 things do you already have that you are thankful for?” Below are the lists they came up with:
[My list: God, House, Car, Bible, Job, Family, Friends, Phone, Food, Music]
On the day we open our Christmas gifts together, we will first go over these lists and be reminded again of all that we already have and are blessed with. We will take time thank God for all he has given us, both the possessions we have as well as for giving us Jesus, since that is ultimately why we are celebrating Christmas. That way we can keep our focus on what the true meaning of Christmas and have a mindset of thankfulness and contentment before we open our gifts.
These are 2 things that I plan to make a regular part of when my children and I celebrate Christmas, making them 2 of our new Christmas Traditions. My hope and prayer is that doing these things each year will continue to remind us to be thankful and content, to be thankful for what we are blessed with, that we are to help others who are in need, and that Christmas is much more than the gifts we receive.
As my children grow up, these are truths I want them to know and live by. And not just at Christmas, but all year long.