Posts tagged christmas traditions

Making Christmas real as a family



As another year winds down, I hope you share my gratitude for God’s most precious gifts … unmerited forgiveness made possible through Christ’s sacrifice, and the gift of family. The Christmas season is a time to enjoy your friends and loved ones, to celebrate and reflect.

Here’s my encouragement to you on how build memories while making Christmas real.

  1. BRING into your home favorite traditions, music, movies or decorations that get to the heart of Christmas –  the birth of Christ and the generosity of God. At the heart of Christmas are giving and love. We love because he first loved us (I John 4:7-19). We give because He first gave to us the unmerited gift of His presence and love through Emmanuel, “God with us.
    making Christmas realOne of our cherished traditions with our children was to build a small manger, and draw names. The goal was to do anonymous acts of kindness for each other several times a day for the weeks leading up to Christmas. For each act, a piece of  straw would be be placed into the manger to create a bed to soften it in preparation for the Christ child. It isn’t just a great visual picture. With each act of kindness, we were making December an especially enjoyable and peaceful month. And that’s saying a lot considering our family of four rambunctious boys. Most importantly, we were honoring God’s gift to us through our kind acts toward one another.
  2. SEEK opportunities to extend gifts of grace and kindness in your personal interactions. Give people a break, say thanks, and show appreciation. Tell your busy wife or emotional teen something special that you notice about them and why you appreciate them. Overcome the busyness of the season with simple gestures of kindness and affirmation toward others. These acts are as welcome as a hot mug of cocoa on a bitter cold day.
  3. HELP others in need. Look for ways to comfort those who’ve lost a loved one, bring hope to those who’ve lost a job. Be there for single parents, and reach out to someone who is homeless or alone with no place to go for the holidays. Preparing a holiday gift package for a family in need or a child with a parent in prison is something that’s most likely available through local ministries in your area.
  4. STAY focused on what’s most important and be intentional about being together as a family. Don’t get distracted and miss time with your family. Don’t be about perfection; rather enjoy the journey of celebrating together. And above all, don’t miss the opportunity as a family to worship the God who gives every perfect gift, remembering His most perfect gift was sending His Son, whose birth we celebrate.

If you have a favorite Christmas tradition, story, or way your family serves, share it with us in the comments below!

Holiday traditions: time to step up



Spiritual leadership has never been easier than it is right now during this holiday season. Don’t know how to lead your family spiritually? Then this is the time to practice! Get ready to roll your sleeves up, dig in, and give your leadership skills a workout!

holiday traditionsDuring the holidays, our families are looking for something more meaningful from us.  Their hearts are more open, more teachable, and more vulnerable. The holidays are overflowing with traditions, and they should be. Family traditions matter. The repetition of the same activities creates strong memories and emotions. Traditions are what families look forward to and remember back on.

One of my favorite holiday traditions is to load the family up in our mini-van and take a drive. We fill a thermos with rich, hot cocoa, stuff a bag with some fresh homemade cookies, and change into our pajamas for the drive. We have a great park nearby that has an amazing Christmas drive-through light display. There are literally hundreds of unique displays in this park and every year they add a few new ones. We love driving through with the windows down, singing Christmas hymns, and munching down on Christmas goodness.

After the drive through the park we make our way to our State Capital which is always beautifully decked out. The kids think that walking through the Capital in their PJ’s is very cool. Then we go out to the Capital lawn to look at  an amazing manger display that features full-sized, hand-carved wooden figures. When our oldest son was little, every time we passed the capital he would point out “that’s where Jesus was born.” We still get a laugh out of it. On our way home we go past our previous homes and talk about our Christmas memories from each.

A spirit of contentment. Another thing I do intentionally throughout the holidays is help my kids keep an attitude of contentment and a grateful heart. We are living in a culture of little consumers. It’s tough to teach our own children to be content with what they have.

The first step is to help them develop a heart of gratitude. We need to show them by example what it means to be thankful for everything we have, beginning with our relationship with our Savior and then with our families and each other. If you practice gratitude in front of your kids, they will learn it from your example. Especially during the holidays, our kids will be bombarded with commercialism and the “Buy! Buy! Get your parents to buy this for you!” messages. We have to combat those messages with the truth we know.

Another thing we do to develop a heart of giving is to always stop and let the kids toss some money into the Salvation Army kettle every where we go. They love to give our money away and we think it’s a great investment to both the giver and receiver.

The Incarnate Christ. With Christmas, of course, the most important job we have is to communicate to our family that Jesus came to Earth, born of a virgin, He was born to die for our sins, and to be resurrected. That, guys, is the message of Christmas. At my house, we also do Advent candles at dinner. The kids love lighting the candles. Some nights we get through the study and some nights we don’t, because conversations drift, questions come up, or attention spans wane. Did you know you can even do the Advent in 5 days or less? One year we actually did it in one night.

Finishing doesn’t count nearly as much as getting started. In the end it’s not about the one thing we do, it’s about all the things we do, big and small, that continually remind us and our kids about the Reason for the season.

  • How do you keep Christ in Christmas at your house?
  • What are your favorite holiday traditions?
  • If your family were famous for a Christmas recipe what would it be?  Ours is chocolate peppermint pinwheels.  Willing to share your recipe?  Send it to ishare@familylife.com.

What’s your favorite Christmas movie? Here are Bob Lepine’s top 7



Bob Lepine's favorite Christmas Movies

One of the traditions of Christmas in our modern era is to put out a list of favorites … favorite Christmas cookies, carols, etc.  Of all those, arguably our favorite list is that of Christmas movies.  Bob Lepine, cohost of FamilyLife Today’s radio program gives us his top seven favorite Christmas movies of all time.  And, in the spirit of David Letterman, we will count down … here goes …

At number 7… Christmas In Connecticut (1945).  Look for the 1945 original with Barbara Stanwyck, not the remake that shows up on TV with Kris Kristofferson. It’s a classic screwball comedy that’s more about romance than Christmas. But it’s still fun to watch by a roaring fire. Starring Barbara Stanwyck, Dennis Morgan, Sydney Greenstreet, Reginald Gardiner, S.Z. Sakall, and Robert Shayne. Directed by Peter Godfrey.

6. Meet John Doe (1941).  Another film from the legendary Frank Capra (It’s A Wonderful Life) that has its climax at Christmas time. Starring Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward Arnold, Walter Brennan, James Gleason, and Spring Byington. Directed by Frank Capra.

5. Miracle on 34th Street (1947). See the original 1947 version in black and white. We love the scene where a woman who has had too much to drink says, “We would love to have Santy Claus come and stay with us!”  Starring Maureen O’Hara, John Payne, Edmund Gwenn, Gene Lockhart, Natalie Wood, and Porter Hall. Directed by George Seaton.

4. All I Want For Christmas (1991).  The Parent Trap meets Christmas.  It’s all about making a marriage and family work.  Starring Leslie Nielsen, Lauren Bacall, Harley Jane Kozak, Jamey Sheridan, Ethan Embry, Ethan Randall, and Kevin Nealon.  Directed by Robert Lieberman.

3. Holiday Inn (1942).  Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire in the movie that the song “White Christmas” came from first. Not technically a Christmas movie, but it’s still a seasonal favorite. Starring Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Marjorie Reynolds, Virginia Dale, Walter Abel, and Louise Beavers.  Directed by Mark Sandrich.

2. White Christmas (1954). Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye sing and dance to songs by Irving Berlin. It’s a “must see” every year.  Starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Vera-Ellen, Dean Jagger, and Mary Wickes.  Directed by Michael Curtiz.

And, Bob Lepine’s all time favorite Christmas movie (shocker alert):

1. It’s A Wonderful Life (1946).  It’s a wonderful movie.  My all-time favorite.  Starring James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, and Henry Travers. Directed by Frank Capra.

So, which ones did Bob miss?  What movie would you put at #1?  Help poor ol’ Bob out here.

BONUS:  The image in this post is from a movie NOT on Bob’s list. Who is he (actor AND character) and what movie is this from?  Extra credit:  What year did this movie come out?

 

Subscribe via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.