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January 9, 2022 | Doug Sauder
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Traditions are an awesome thing. I read an article last year about the importance of family traditions. As a kid, we never really had any traditions. I always saw other families do stuff together weekly or monthly, or even once a year, and always felt a twinge of jealousy. But now, with a family of my own, I’ve really begun to see the value of traditions.
Traditions are great memory builders. They allow families to connect and grow closer as they engage in some fun, or whimsical, or competitive, or exhilarating activity. And the repetition of it builds up excitement as you enthusiastically await the next time.
So, in the spirit of Christmas here are a few Christmas traditions I love that you can share with your family, friends, social club, classmates, coworkers, or neighbors.
Watch your favorite Christmas movie as a family or with a group of friends, neighbors, coworkers, social club, or classmates.
For me, there are three Christmas movies I like to watch with my family. The first, I’ve been watching since I was a child. It’s the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol, starring acclaimed Scottish actor Alistair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge. The second is Elf, which I started watching my freshman year of college. And the third film, Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas, we started watching three years ago at my son’s first Christmas. And we’ll watch it again this year when our daughter is born. Watching awesome Christmas movies with others is a great, fun thing everyone can do, doesn’t cost much, and usually involves some laughs, tears, and all sorts of warm fuzzies. Maybe for you it can be A Christmas Story, Miracle on 34th Street, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Rudolph, or It’s a Wonderful Life. Perhaps it’s Home Alone, Jingle All the Way, A Charlie Brown Christmas, or The Santa Clause. Whatever it is, make sure to pop some popcorn, make some hot chocolate with marshmallows, and wear your favorite Christmas sweater!
Make a Gingerbread House
Some people like carving pumpkins for Halloween. I have to say, though, neither my son nor I like to do that. In fact, we both find carving a pumpkin to be pretty gross and super messy. But making a gingerbread house? Let’s see . . . candy? Check! Frosting? Check! Cookies? Check! You can eat while you build. It’s sticky, sure, but teaching your kids architecture allows them to explore their creativity and gives you time to bond! It’s also an awesome time to play your favorite Christmas tunes.
Experience the Wonder of a Christmas Concert or Pageant
Every year, during November and December, Disney’s Epcot hosts what is called the Candlelight Processional, an evening of beautiful music sung by different high school choirs from around the state and the telling of the Christmas story, usually by a celebrity. In 2002, I had the privilege to be part of the production as I sang in the Florida Christian School choir. That year, Jim Caviezel, star of Passion of the Christ and Person of Interest was the narrator. Since then, I’ve gone several times to watch the show. If you find yourself at Disney World this month, do yourself a favor and drop by Epcot one evening for this beautiful production.
Looking for something local and affordable? Check out your city events calendar. You're bound to find a tree lighting, Christmas village drive-through experience, a Christmas pageant, or some great holiday musical event. Here in South Florida, we have the wonderful Fort Lauderdale Christmas Pageant hosted by First Baptist Church of Fort Lauderdale and our very own yearly musical spectacular, Not So Silent Night, presented by Ocean's Edge School of Worship. If you’ve never gone to either of these, they're well worth the price of admission!
Decorate the Tree as a Fam
As a child, I remember my mom always decorating the tree by herself. I know it was the same at my sister’s house—we didn’t live in the same house because my parents had me when they were almost 50 and my sister is more than 20 years older than me. We never got to participate in it, so we never got to experience one of the best parts of the holiday season—and I know my mom and sister were both worn out by the time they were done, defeating the purpose of the whole thing!
So, instead of leaving all the decorating to mom, your roommate, or doing it all on your own, do the Christmas deco with your favorite people! Put on your favorite Christmas music playlist, bust out some of those classic Little Debbie Christmas tree snack cakes and dress that tree up together! Deck the halls, string up the lights, fill your living spaces with holiday cheer . . . and let each person add a little bit of flair to this year's Christmas decorations. Hey parents, maybe sit with your kids and make an ornament or let them each make their own. That way, you have a keepsake and everyone is personally invested in the decorating!
Go Ice Skating
Yes, even down in South Florida there are ice skating rinks. Guess what? It’s a lot of fun! So, you may fall once or twice. That’s part of the fun. I remember watching all those Christmas movies with snow, snowball fights, and ice-skating and feeling like I was missing out on part of the Christmas magic because I was born and raised in the sweltering heat of Miami. And though it’s obviously not the same as skating on a starlit frozen pond, it’s still a fun time for everyone.
Do an Outreach Together
Whether it’s volunteering at a local food bank, soup kitchen, or foster home, or just baking cookies or putting together a few meals for a neighbor in need, this is the best way to embody the Christmas spirit. By giving our time and treasure to others, we tangibly show the love of Jesus as He did when He came to earth to make a way for us to be saved. So, make it a tradition to give back every year. Doing this with friends and family strengthens bonds and blesses everyone involved!
These are just a few of the many amazing traditions you and your loved ones can start up during the Christmas season. We pray that these upcoming weeks are amazing and filled with joy for you!
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.