Cultivate Meaningful Family Traditions

Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem every year for the feast of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom.

(Luke 2:41–42, NET)

When Jan and I got married, we started our family Christmas tradition. Our siblings and we would spend Christmas Eve with one set of parents and Christmas day with the other. Our daughter was born into a family where the holiday was spent with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Then we moved to Texas.

Our first Christmas in Texas was culture shock. There were no grandparents within fifteen hundred miles, no aunts or uncles, no cousins, no friends; it was just the three of us in an apartment in Mesquite, Texas. Since we knew no one and had no place to go, we spent most of the day slowly opening presents, putting toys together and playing with them; enjoying the day together. Mid-afternoon we realized we had made no plans for lunch, and since we were all hungry, we drove around town until we found a restaurant open on Christmas day.

This became our family tradition. As we moved several times, added a puppy or two (or four) and a son, and now a son-in-law and a granddaughter, we have continued to spend Christmas day as a family. Just us. And then we go out for lunch.

Jesus grew up in a family with traditions. The trip to Bethlehem to fulfill the requirement of the census was a one-time event, in fulfillment of the command of Caesar Augustus (Luke 2:1). The family fled to Egypt to avoid Herod (Matthew
2:13–15)—a one-time event. But, every year, Jesus and His family traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover.

Christmas is, particularly, a time for traditions: trees, lights, presents, turkey, pageants, carols, etc. We cultivate meaningful traditions because they help us to pass on to the next generations what we value and esteem. Above all, Christmas traditions help us remember and honor the birth of the One who came to be the Savior of the world.