Almost every family has Christmas traditions. Finding ways to regularly remind us of God’s faithfulness in the past keeps us grounded. Traditions serve as milestone markers that connect precious memories with future goals. When something key happened in the life of Israel, they built an altar for future generations to remember the greatness of God. In our home, we maintain certain Christmas traditions too. Some are common (like decorating the Christmas tree, setting up the nativity, reading the Christmas story from Luke’s Gospel, and exchanging gifts). Other traditions are more personal (driving around looking at lights, sending special gifts to our Compassion boys in other countries, building gingerbread houses, hiding the pickle, chopping and stacking wood for the fire).
Several years ago, my wonderful wife helped us value these personal traditions in a way that built in a daily expectation for valuing each other and Christ. This chart that counts down to Christmas has 25 pockets that we write out a different tradition, activity, project, or focus at the start of each day. Keeping the focus (not to mention the sanity) in our home where it ought to be in the month of December is an incredible challenge, but this wonderful tool allows us as the parents to plan ahead. On days we know will be challenging, the daily focus may be as simple as “serve a family member in a selfless way today.” On more flexible days, it may be more elaborate like a day trip to appreciate God’s beauty or serving in a local shelter. However you choose to make Christmas count, keep the focus on Christ. Every family needs its own traditions. The great thing about traditions is that you can start one anytime. This year, make Christmas count!