Traditions of the Untraditional


I’d never have thought of myself as a traditional person, but here, I am espousing the importance of family traditions, which have their emphasis in my home during Christmas.

  • Putting Up the Tree

Whenever the Christmas decorations in town start going up, it’s a reminder to put up our Christmas tree. With Christmas music blasting in the background, we set up the tree beginning with the lights, then the ornaments, the streamers, and finally, the star! The anticipation of finishing it all with the Christmas star reminds us of how the wise men and shepherds travelled from afar, guided by the star in the east, to the awaited Saviour whose birth we celebrate at Christmas.

  • Growing Ornaments

When our child was born, we decided to purchase or select a special Christmas tree ornament on which we’d record the year and our son’s “nth Christmas”. It’s heartwarming to witness my son’s delight at discovering all of the ornaments representing the number of years he’s been on this earth to celebrate Christmas.

  • The Nativity

We couldn’t resist purchasing a wooden set that we saw while on holiday in New Zealand. Now that we have a child, it’s become his favourite toy that he gets to play with only during Christmas. Two years ago, we read somewhere that a fun activity to do with children is to hide Baby Jesus and have a little game of Hide & Seek on Christmas morning to find Him. It sure helps add excitement to the real meaning of Christmas apart from waking up to see if Santa’s visited with presents.

  • The Christmas Gift Box

To put the “Christ” back in Christmas, I decided to try an activity suggested by a Focus on the Family book. I gather 6-12 items that represent who Jesus and wrap them up in a box to be opened as the final present on Christmas Day. Usually, the corresponding Bible verse is attached to explain the gift God has given us through His Son Jesus. For example, a light bulb would represent Jesus as the “Light of the World” that brings salvation to mankind (John 8:12).

  • Christmas Family Movie

We used to make it a point to watch the black-and-white classic, It’s a Wonderful Life, each Christmas. It’s more difficult to make that our family traditional Christmas movie with a preschooler in the house, so we watch The First Noel instead, which is a much shorter animated cartoon with familiar Christmas carols and a catchy rhyme. We might just do both as our son grows older!

  • Advent – Countdown to Christmas Day

Most recently, I chanced upon a family devotional that explained how the season of Advent came to be and is celebrated in different countries. This is a new tradition I’m trying out, although we’ve missed the first couple of days and have had to do it without the “head of the household” since my husband is overseas for work.

Having encountered many young people in the course of our work with no “real family”, my husband and I typically try to invite at least one such person we know of to join us in one or more of our simple traditions. Our son appears to enjoy this aspect of Christmas the most as he loves the company and the feeling of an “enlarged” family.

And I guess that’s what gives traditions their place in our home. When traditions have their purpose, even the unconventional (like me) can learn to appreciate and cherish them!


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