I have long been a traditionalist and a sentimentalist. I distinctly remember being a child and getting upset with my Mom when a holiday or family tradition was changed, even for a perfectly logical reason. I think it’s just how some of us are wired. While I respect that not all people hold traditions with such high regard, I do think the memories that we attach with traditions are of such great value. If you’ve ever experienced a loss of someone or a heartbreak of some kind then you know that memories are invaluable.
Prior to becoming a Mom myself I took note of my friend Lindsay Oakley, and the thoughtfulness that she possessed as a mother. She established traditions and created so many magical moments for her family that I know her girls will cherish forever. Furthermore, she was intentional to keep Christ as the focus and teach her girls lessons alongside the fun! It never seemed like it was about the photo on social media, but about what she wanted her girls to remember in the future.
As it is now December and we all prepare for this magical season I’ve seen and been asked by several moms about what traditions our family keeps. Since I’ve gained so much inspiration from Lindsay I wanted to ask the same of her. I do not doubt you’ll have some sort of take-away from this interview.
How would you describe your family?
We’re pretty much your average middle-class family, living the traditional American dream with two kids, two dogs, and a house in the suburbs. On any given day you’ll find my daughters (ages 9 and 7) wearing matching clothes, our family eating dinner on paper plates, and me having a Coke for breakfast. Our second home is our church where both myself and my husband work in full-time ministry. We wouldn’t want it any other way!
What is unique about your motherhood journey?
My motherhood journey is not incredibly unique. I would say that I’ve had the unique perspective of being both a stay at home mom and a full-time working mom at different seasons since my girls were born. I fall on both sides of the debate, and can sympathize with the challenges and conveniences of both. Also, I can confirm that both are equally as hard and equally as rewarding.
What is something that you’ve learned from being a mother that has made you stronger in Christ?
As I reflect on the gift of being a mom and what it’s taught me, I always go back to the virtue of sacrifice. Being a mom requires great sacrifice of self. It requires me to give stuff up for the benefit of my daughters, to put my own desires aside for their best interests. That is sacrificial love, and I’m learning every day that that’s exactly what Christ did for us. Putting that in perspective makes the little inconveniences and the big sacrifices so very worth it. It draws me close to Him because I can’t do it alone. It gives me great purpose. It’s a motherhood game-changer.
Why are traditions significant to you and your family?
Traditions have always been special to me because I grew up with many. My mom taught me to make any excuse to celebrate, to always add that extra special touch, and to celebrate with intentionality. Now that I have daughters of my own I love doing the things with them that she did with me. Traditions give us something exciting to look forward to and something special to treasure. They are passed from generation to generation, and there’s just something special about that! While many traditions we hold are silly, light-hearted and fun, others are deeply spiritual and meaningful and they give us opportunities to disciple our kids with great intentionality.
What are your family’s Christmas traditions? And how to do maintain them?
Good gracious I have so many Christmas traditions I would bore you tears listing them all! In addition to getting new Christmas jammies, welcoming our elves (yes, two of them), baking Christmas cookies, giving “sister gifts”, and visiting Santa, we also make every effort to create traditions with great meaning that help us focus our minds and hearts on the true meaning of Christmas. Those are the ones that we cherish the most.
Each night in December we make time for an Advent family devotion. We’ve done many different things over the years (Jesse Tree ornaments, Joy Cards, Jesus Story Book Bible advent calendar, etc.), but I’ve learned that what we do isn’t as important as making sure we do SOMETHING. That focused time together to reflect on the beautiful story of creation to Christ makes our holiday season laced with scripture and centered on Him. This time together culminates on Christmas Eve when we talk about the birth of Christ. My husband reads the Biblical account from Luke 2 and the girls use our nativity to “act out” the story as He reads. To close, we take our Baby Jesus nativity piece and place him in a small gift box. In the morning when the girls awake that box is the first gift we open. Before we dive into presents and see what Santa brought, we think about Jesus being our first and greatest gift. We place him in the nativity and thank God for the gift of His son, our Savior. It’s the sweetest time each Christmas morning! I literally weep every year watching them open our first gift and finding Jesus with such anticipation. At one time I led the conversation, but now that my girls are older they’re the ones who lead it and it’s so special to see them articulate so beautifully why God’s Son is our greatest gift. It’s my favorite tradition by far!
A close second is our Christmas Day tradition of going somewhere to serve others as a family. From delivering cookies to a hospital waiting room, to feeding the homeless, or even visiting residents in a local nursing home, there are so many ways you can make service a priority. We’re teaching our girls that the day isn’t just about us- that there are people who are hurting and in need of God’s love. It’s an intentional way to take our attention away from the gifts and the goodies and to focus on others. After all, isn’t that a much better use of our time than spending another hour playing with toys or eating more calories?
Speaking of calories- it’s not Christmas at our house until you’ve made a Happy Birthday Jesus cake! It’s a fun, easy tradition that’s also tasty and purposeful!
No matter how you celebrate at your house, I hope you take every opportunity to weave Christ into your Christmas season- or every season, as a matter of fact! Many years from now I don’t want to be remembered for baking amazing Christmas cookies or giving the perfect gift, but instead by how I pointed my family to Jesus in ways they don’t soon forget. That’s my prayer for me and for you!