Just the word “Christmas” typically generates warm feelings and memories: hot wassail, snowy weather, gift shopping, and most importantly Jesus’ birth. For parents and grandparents, it is important to establish family traditions during the Christmas season emphasizing our Savior. What family traditions did your family practice during your childhood? Are these traditions ones you want to pass down to your children? What traditions do you want to begin?
A very common Christmas tradition is decorating our homes. Center the decorating around the birth of Jesus by using at least one nativity scene. In homes with small children, purchase a nativity scene that children can handle. In the book, More 1001 Things to do with Your Kids, Krueger suggests to assemble the nativity set over a matter of weeks, not all at once. During the first week of December begin by reading the story of Mary and Joseph. Allow the children to hold the figurines representing Mary and Joseph. Reiterate this part of the Christmas story throughout the week. At the beginning of the next week, read about the shepherds and let the children place the shepherd figurines with Mary and Joseph. Continue family discussions about Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds. Next read about the wise men on Christmas Eve. Finally on Christmas day read about the birth of baby Jesus. Place the manager, baby Jesus, and the animals with the Nativity. As your children grow, allow them to read the verses and continue to slowly construct the Nativity scene.
It is important to establish family traditions during the Christmas season emphasizing our Savior.
Make Christmas ornaments! As a family, make a set of ornaments that depicts Christ’s birth, life and resurrection. As a family decides what aspects of the Scripture will be used. Make one ornament per event. Also, allow the children to decide how to make the ornaments. Are you going to make ornaments out of dough? Are you going to paint wooden ornaments? Are you going to purchase ornaments from a craft store that allow you to fill the ornaments with small objects? Guide the children in their decisions. In the following years, as a family make a set to give to another family or friends.
Count the days until Christmas! Before the month of December, parents should choose 25 verses. Print each verse on a small card. Wrap each card in a separate box. Allow children to open one box a day, beginning December 1. Read the verse, find the verse in the Bible, talk about the verse, and hang the verse in a noticeable place in the home. Continue until Christmas day.
Make Christmas candles with older children. In the book The Adventure of Christmas, Whelchel describes how to make crayon candles. This is a great way to use old crayons, and a terrific way to help children make decorations for their home and gifts for others.
Christmas is a time when children are a captive audience. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and others should use this important occasion to share God’s love by creatively teaching through family traditions.