Sometimes I think no one can do Christmas traditions like the Pollock family. We have so many that at times it can be hard to find the time to get them all in! But we love every bit of it!
Some of our traditions started when I was a child. My dad always read us Twas the Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve right before we went to bed. Since my brother is 9 years younger than I am (and 7 years younger than my sister), this tradition lasted a long time for the three of us. Then my sister passed it on and reads it to her two boys every Christmas Eve.
Other traditions have evolved over time. For example, when my mom was growing up, her family would make taffy. She passed this on to us, and it was something we did at times throughout the year especially when we were in high school. It wasn’t unusual for us to have our friends over to pull taffy. We even added a creative element by forming the long ropes into shapes (the initials of boyfriends was a favorite!). But as we got older, our taffy making moved into becoming an annual Christmas tradition. A delicious one, too, I might add!
An old Thanksgiving tradition has also become a Christmas tradition for our family. My great-grandmother made the best chicken pot pie (which I later found out was really chicken and dumplings, but that was what she called it). Now that we no longer get it for Thanksgiving, Mom makes it for us for Christmas every year – taking the time to even make the pastry from scratch like my great-grandmother did.
Some traditions are newer. About 15 years ago, I began doing a puzzle at Christmas. I love puzzles and saw a cute Rudolph one that got me started with attaching puzzles to the holiday. When I was single and home the week before Christmas, I would do it on the kitchen table, and it became a family thing when my sister and her family would help out when they were over. Now that I’m married, my sister’s family and I carry on the tradition, each doing puzzles at our homes and texting pictures of the finished product to each other.
Our traditions are important to our family. They create great memories, bind us together, and connect one generation to the next. But I also have a personal Christmas tradition – one that is just with me and Jesus.
In 1999, my dear friend, Kit, gave me a book by Joni Eareckson Tada called A Christmas Longing. I loved the way that the words pulled me away from the commercial Christmas and back to the real meaning of Christmas. And so every year since 1999, after Thanksgiving I pull out this book and read one or two “chapters” each day during my quiet time.
It is my own tradition, and it is a tradition for my heart. It is a tradition to focus on His first coming and His return. It is a tradition that slows me down, even if it’s just for a moment. It keeps the craziness and busyness and gift buying and parties and decorating and my treasured family traditions from taking over and pulling me away from what Christmas is all about.
What are your traditions? Do you have one for your heart? I love the greater focus on Advent I’ve noticed over the last few years. It has meant an increased number of great resources to turn your eyes and heart towards Immanuel at Christmas – ones that will help you pause and marvel that He left His throne for a manger, that He left continuous worship for insults, and that He was born to die for us.
If you don’t have a tradition for your heart, I encourage you to find one. If you are interested in the book by Joni, you can order one here. Just this week I found out about this free John Piper Advent devotional. And there is so much more out there. Just do a Google search. But take time to prepare your heart for the holiday. It will be the best tradition of all.