Creating Christmas Traditions

Recap & Handouts of Dr. Karen Palmer’s Presentation for “Be Still” Workshop 11/18/17

“It felt like we had just cleared the Thanksgiving turkey from the table when our 2-year-old started asking, “When is Santa coming, Mommy?” And our 4-year-old chimed in, “How many presents am I getting?” No matter what was asked, their questions had one general theme: What’s in it for me?

My heart sank. Christ was slipping away from being the focus of our Christmas season. A few weeks later, the holiday hustle and bustle ended just as quickly as it had begun, leaving behind two exhausted parents and a ton of shredded wrapping paper. I felt like nothing was gained.”

Courtney Roberts, Focus on the Family Blog

One Christmas, several years ago, my own thoughts echoed this sentiment:

“My kids started talking about Santa Claus months ago.  We’ve been fielding questions about how many days are left until Christmas and dodging toy magazines being shoved in our faces, along with VERY lengthy Christmas lists.  If you ask them what Christmas is about, they say, “Jesus!”  But Jesus is not the topic of conversation with them.”

In order to help re-focus our kids on the meaning of Christmas and to avoid the ‘yuck’ feeling that inevitably followed the opening of gifts, we decided to create a few new traditions in our household.

Why is tradition important?

According to Dr. Susan Coady of Ohio State University, family traditions:

Definition of a tradition: Regularlity, Commitment, Predictable, Family-specific

  • Provide a sense of stability
  • Provide a sense of family history
  • Provide feelings of roots
  • Define the boundaries of a family
  • Keep generations connected
  • Increase family strength and satisfaction

“Tradition gives us the chance to slow down, appreciate and express gratitude

towards the things in our lives that are not run by technology and busy demands.” Daffnee Cohen

Some other reasons to create traditions:

  • Give family members a stronger sense of belonging.
  • Help children create their identity
  • Help impart family values
  • Offer children a sense of security

Jodi Schulz

In addition listen to these benefits added by Heather Turgeon:

“linked to higher academic success, happiness, and emotional well-being for the whole family”

“Lower anxiety levels for both kids and parents, and protect teens from risky behaviors and alcoholism.”

“Makes kids’ memories stronger over time”

Why Advent?

  • It’s an opportunity to talk about Jesus—
  • Advent means “coming” or “arrival”
  • Traditional advent: hope & expectation; preparation; coming of Messiah; celebration/joy
  • Creates family time
  • Gives something to look forward to each day
  • Slows us down to celebrate each moment



Search Pinterest for Advent ideas. 🙂

12 Days of Christmas

  • December 25-Jan 5 OR Dec 26-Jan 6
  • Feast of St. Stephen (12/26); Feast of St. John (12/27); Feast of the Holy Innocents (12/28)
  • 12th Night leads into Epiphany—Jan 6th—sends us out to be a light to the world
  • Gives us a way to reflect on what Jesus’ birth means in our lives
  • RACK focuses our attention outward, on shining a light even after Christmas