Only God can bequeath God to our children. But he uses means. He uses God-centered traditions and Bible-saturated family patterns and grace-laden heirlooms. Only God can give our children a taste for the sweetness of God. Only God can awaken them to his worth. But year in and year out there are traditions that show children that God is our Treasure.
Many years ago, I read Noel Piper’s “Treasuring God in our Traditions.” It was such a refreshing read on why traditions are important. While tradition doesn’t save us, it can be a precious tool that points us to Christ and serves as a channel of His love, especially to our children.
I try to keep our traditions simple and focused. Though we do find repetition of traditions peaceful, we also hold them loosely – willing to make changes as the children get older and move through different developmental stages. We have simple “non-religious” traditions like getting and decorating a real Christmas tree, listening to Christmas music and attending various events around the city (this is always a fun adventure for us to see what’s out there each year).
We also have more focused traditions like doing a Jesse tree. This year, we’ve incorporated Ann Voskamps new children’s advent book. It’s been so beautiful to read together and has given us some sweet time in prayer and discussion around the dinner table. In the mornings I use a simple burlap advent calendar that tells the story of Jesus birth. This is mainly for our little ones….I have done it with our older two over the years and we enjoy it. We also read Christmas poetry and pick a Christmas hymn to read and study together. This year it is “O come, O come Emmanuel.” It is always a joy to listen to Handel’s “Messiah” and we found a participatory Messiah concert to attend that is free which we are looking forward to doing together as a family. We keep gifts simple and only give our children a couple of things like new art supplies or books. We’ve explored, in the past, with doing no gifts at all and enjoyed giving to various organizations. I love what Noel says about the fact that only God can awake our children to His worth and only He can point them to Himself. But traditions do matter and they can point to the treasure that is found in Christ alone. Happy tradition-making from our home to yours!