Last Updated on March 13, 2024

Did you know that family traditions keep your kids pure?

The Gresh family Christmas traditions … you’d think they’d be made of eggnog and pumpkin spice. Maybe Christmas hymns and candlelight church services. Nope. Ours are not so sophisticated.

On November 28th, we pulled out Douglas the Talking Fir and began the month of stealthily sneaking his two motion-sensitive feet of fake needles into places where we might just scare someone silly (that bathroom for middle-of-the-night-nature-calls is always a favorite).

Speaking of silly, our iPods are now stocked with the full “Christmas Comedy Classics” album, complete with “The Hat I Got for Christmas Is Too Big.”

Traditions? Yes. Traditional? Nope. Not at all. And that’s okay because the main thing about traditions is that they should be like glue. They should make you stick to each other. Something as simple as a nickname is as good as cyanoacrylate. (That’s the scientific name for Krazy glue.)

The classiest of our Christmas traditions is conquering the forest to pick out a tree. Douglas can’t take the place of the real tree. But even this has a quirk to it. We take silly pictures the whole time. (I can’t show you last year’s silliest picture of Robby because we took it moments after he busted a one-foot-long rip in the seat of his pants.)

Years ago when I began my quest to rescue the hearts of teen girls from sexual pain, I learned that parent-child connectedness—described best as having planned, repeated activities like dinners together and Christmas traditions—is an unexpected and powerful risk-reducer to teen sexual activity.

Yep, I just drew the conclusion that Douglas the Talking Fir acts a bit like a chastity belt.

How does that work? It seems the family who makes “peppermint bark pancakes” together has deeper conversations about values and personal life choices. That’s a fact! Big important folks in the field of psychology say so.

Personally, I think that all the silliness and fun just opens our kids’ hearts up, and that makes them talk about deeper things. You have to laugh together!

A few years ago, I read Treasuring God In Our Traditions by Noel Piper, and I realized that God likes traditions, too. He desires to be at the center of them. Noel showed me how God built traditions into the lives of His people beginning in the Old Testament, and He still does today.

Traditions like special religious feasts or setting up stones of remembrance at special places on the journey of life acted as relational glue between God and His followers. As His people pressed in to them, they became closer to each other and closer to Him.

It made me want to be more intentional about putting God at the center of some of our family traditions. So this year, we are adding a Gresh family tradition.

Here it is: Armed with a copy of Donna VanLiere’s brand new The Christmas Journey, a short but passionate coffee-table book that takes you into the stable on the night of Christ’s birth, we are heading out to our own teeny tiny stable on our land. There with the animals smelling the place up, we are going to read this precious story and recount the suffering of Mary and Joseph on this night that we have anesthetized.

I hope and believe it will be a tradition that anchors us to the Lord and His tremendous sacrifice and that we can enjoy it with our grandchildren in years that are coming so very quickly. Perhaps it is a tradition that you, too, could add to your family fun this holiday season. If you don’t have your own stable, create one in the garage. (Perhaps put some cow ears on your dog. You can still be silly when you put Christ in the center. He’s the one who gave us our laughter!)

I strongly encourage you to look at your family traditions this holiday season. If you’re like us and you have more craze than Christ in the holidays, step back and add something new this year.

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  1. Our only significant Christmas tradition is Advent NativiTree. A set of 24 Nativity-themed ornaments that go in a special Advent Calendar. Each night the boys pull the ornament out of the calendar, hang it on a mini tree and then read the scripture that tells that part of the Christmas story. Sometimes it only takes two minutes, sometimes we add the reading of a Christmas story book that complements the scripture from that day. We started the tradition when the boys were 2 and 4 as a means to keep from focusing on presents and parties. We’re into our sixth year and it’s a tradition we all love still. I love that in the last moments of their day, we’re all reminded of what Christmas is really about.

    Even if a family doesn’t want to do the daily version we do, it’s a great way to tell the Christmas story as a family, or with a Sunday school class. (see more in the website link)