My friend has a collection of memorabilia on his wall. But it is not what you might expect. It is a collection of snapshots, flyers, and illustrations commemorating all the events he has planned or helped with since his new birth in Christ. Being grateful for God’s forgiveness, he never wanted to go back to his old way of life. He became a part of our church and began to serve faithfully in almost every area of the church.
Over the years, he began to display a great ability to oversee events and lead people. The Lord allowed him to be in charge of many church events and eventually, to lead a small group Bible study group. His family room wall chronicles God’s intervention and training in his Christian life.
Why are these things and several more on his wall? Well, soon after his miraculous salvation from a life of drugs and alcohol, Robert heard a sermon on Joshua 4 where the Lord instructs Joshua to have the leaders of each tribe take a stone from the Jordan River to leave at their campsite that evening as a memorial for the miracle that God had performed. Joshua set up the 12 stones that evening—the stones from the Jordan River at the exact place where the Ark of the Covenant had been held up by the priests as the people crossed the Jordan during flood season on dry land! There the stones stayed for the Israelites to be reminded of the power and goodness of God. This inspired him to create his own memorial wall to always remind him of God’s goodness and faithfulness in his life!
You Should Make a Memorial, Too!
We can build memorials as reminders of the goodness and mercy of God in our personal lives, family life, or even church family life. They don’t have to be framed objects on a wall. A scrapbook could be created to illustrate memories of God’s miracles and blessings. A mural could be painted on the kitchen wall. A tablecloth could be decorated with fabric paints over time. A simple journal can record the intervention of God in your life.
Why is a memorial important for us as believers? Because we experience God’s faithfulness, answers to our prayers, and unasked-for blessings; but our memory is so short! When troubled times come, we forget how good God is and we worry about the future. When trials come, we complain and bicker instead of reminding ourselves of positive outcomes of previous trials. A memorial gives us something tangible to look at when we need to remember who God is and what He has done for us! It also is a constant reminder to thank our Lord over and over again. He is truly good to us.
Traditions and celebrations are similar to these memorials. They allow us to remember and celebrate the goodness of God. Traditions help us to instill values into our children’s hearts and lives in positive and creative ways. Celebrations and family habits give everyone in the family, including ourselves, a sense of belonging and a unique identity as a group.
Special occasions are opportunities to celebrate the goodness of God to your family. The Israelites were commanded to pass on the stories of God’s faithfulness, especially the mighty deliverance through the Red Sea in their escape from Egypt. Each family has stories of answered prayers, miracles, transformed lives, and divine intervention. Here is the opportunity to pass down these stories of the Lord’s faithfulness to each one of you, building up your children’s faith in the process. It is also the time to pass on our Christian heritage and the Lord’s faithfulness to those who have gone on before.
What Are You Passing on to Your Kids?
The world has one set of values and the Kingdom of God has another set. They are vastly different. What a perfect time to pass on your values to your little ones! Holidays and milestones are emotional moments and tend to stay etched in our minds and hearts. Be sure to pass on God’s truth and personal convictions as we experience joy together.
Compassion for the poor is a value that is beautifully portrayed in A Christmas Carol, as Ebenezer Scrooge is transformed. We can engage in activities at Christmas that teach our children to be compassionate without speaking a word about it.
The brokenness and despair in the world today stems directly from the breakdown of traditional families and the values that accompany them. As we pass along our biblical values, let’s also pass on the security that being part of a godly family provides. We have learned as a culture that self-love does not provide security, but that children need to know that they are loved by their parents and the Lord. Traditions instill a sense of belonging and family togetherness.
Traditions are patterns and habits that we receive from the generations before us and pass on to the generations that follow. Some traditions are innately good, such as daily Bible reading. Some are inherently evil, such as drunkenness to celebrate New Year’s Eve. All of us enter marriage with patterns and habits we have inherited for celebrating birthdays, holidays, and milestones such as graduations.
Traditions and habits should be carefully chosen and executed with purpose in light of the Word of God. These things shape our children’s hearts and behavior more than we like to think they do.
Evaluate your family’s patterns and habits in view of time and effort expended. Are these things time consuming and difficult? If so, are they worth the time and effort? For some people, 15 hours of baking is a delight; for others it’s a drudgery to be endured. Choose traditions that you and your family will enjoy. Keep in mind that your family is different from every other family. Be careful to spend time on that which will bear eternal fruit.
Here are some practical ways to celebrate, pass on values, and provide a sense of family this Christmas.
Celebrate God’s Gift of Jesus!
Angels rejoiced with singing on the night of our Lord’s birth. What a tender moment in time, when the King of kings became a tiny baby. What joy to celebrate 2000 years later that God would love us so much that He would send His One and Only Son to be born of a virgin in a stable!
Pass on Values of Generosity, Giving, and Receiving!
Christmas is a time that God gave! Our heavenly Father gave us the gift of Jesus. We celebrate this by giving gifts to one another. Teach your children to give with great joy and to give with the recipient in mind—choosing that perfect gift to bless a loved one. Teach your children to receive with gratefulness and humility. Christmas is not the time for selfishness and greed. Most of all, keep the Christ in Christmas. This season is really a celebration of Him!
Here Are Some Traditions to Try in Your Home!
- Set up an Advent Calendar or wreath.
- Set up a manger scene one piece a day and examine their part in the Christmas story.
- Decorate with red and green; crèche; stockings; greens; mistletoe; holly; wreathes; angels; stars; candy canes; snowflakes; candles; cinnamon stick bundles; pinecones; and Christmas trees.
- Explain the stories behind different legends and customs.
- Act out the Christmas story.
- Make a birthday cake and sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus on Christmas morning before presents!
- Read Luke 2:1-20 before opening presents on Christmas day.
- Celebrate Christmas all month long!
- Decorate the tree as a family and follow with a traditional meal or snack.
- Have the youngest child put the star on top of the tree.
- Write a Christmas letter and send cards as a family.
- Annual Christmas family picture!
- Buy and wrap presents for a needy family.
- Bake and decorate cookies.
- Make and bake gifts, ornaments and decorations.
- Christmas carol as a family in your neighborhood.
- Prepare a layette for baby Jesus and give to a Crisis Pregnancy Center.
- Play Christmas music all month! Christmas carols are filled with theology.
- Make or decorate a gingerbread cookie house.
- Drive around as a family to see lights and decorations in your city.
- Set up and decorate an elderly person’s tree.
- Start an ornament collection for each of your children—add to it each year.
- Have the family fill each other’s stockings with tiny gifts.
- Open one present or stocking on Christmas Eve.
Meredith Curtis, pastor’s wife and homeschooling mom of five amazing children, has been married to her college sweetheart for 30 years. She loves Jesus, leads worship, homeschools, writes, mentors ladies, and sometimes even cooks dinner! She is the author of Joyful and Successful Homeschooling, Unlocking the Mysteries of Homeschooling High School (with Laura Nolette), Beauty Secrets (with Sarah Jeffords), and several high school classes. Meredith wants to encourage homeschooling families to be joyful and successful in their homeschool adventures, all the way to high school graduation.