This time of the year we are often focused on making memories for our children. It is Christmas time and we go to many lengths to set the atmosphere in our home, to cook special food, and buy (or make) unique and meaningful gifts. We think on the traditions that our family practised as we grew up, and we build on them in our own families.
But traditions aren’t just around Christmas time – we have all sorts of family traditions – some traditions are forever, some traditions change as our family changes. Here are some of the things we’ve done over the years:
* When we set out on a long trip we always play the same CD/music as we drive out of town – always.
* We have birthday traditions where birthday person chooses the menu for breakfast and dinner, and we don’t do any study/school work on birthdays if we can tweak it that way!
* We take a photo of the gift giver with the gift receiver – and always watch together as they open their present.
* Sunday mornings we have a cooked breakfast and eat out on the verandah – it is one of our most consistent family times.
* We had a time where we were having a family read aloud time after dinner, while everyone ate dessert.
* Friday night movies and pizza
* Christmas tree decking and thanksgiving party
* Open house on Christmas night
* Eastern States New Years Eve Party (this is so we can celebrate the new year at 9.00pm thanks to time zone differences!)
What are your family traditions that your children will build their memories on?
As I reflected on our traditions and the memories that we hope our children will take with them it dawned on me that we need to have spiritual traditions too – that our children need to have spiritual memories or heart-focused memories.
Building Spiritual Memories
What will your children remember about this Christmas? What heart focus memories will they treasure?
Remember our heart is the place where we hold our beliefs – so when we have spiritual traditions, we are building our children’s beliefs.
What could be a spiritual tradition, or build a spiritual memory?
* Family devotions
* Dad/Mum praying for each child before they go to sleep
* Bible studies and discussions over God’s truths
* Going to Church
* Praying with guests before they leave your home
* Singing songs of praise and worship as a family
* Praying in the car
* Reading Spiritual growth books or biographies together
* Watching DVDs that show God’ goodness either in people’s lives or in creation
* Saying ‘Grace’ at meal time
* Being hospitable to strangers
* Celebrating spiritual milestones
* Saying a prayer or blessing as you go your way each day
Before you simply tack Jesus onto the traditional celebrations and activities your families does, or revamp your Christmas Carols CD’s to only Jesus songs, and rearrange your Christmas morning plans to include Church – let me just say – that is not where it is at. Doing these things is not going to build great memories for our kids. Doing these things in and of themselves have no bearing on our relationship with Jesus, nor our children’s. It is as we talk about the why we do these things, talk about what Jesus has done in your heart that makes these things real in your life, then and only then will you be touching your kids’ hearts.
Christmas is more than tinsel and gingerbread. Think about the heart stuff now, so you are truly prepared to celebrate Christmas with your family.
It isn’t about what we do – but why we do it.
So the real questions should be:
* Are we meeting with Jesus daily?
* Are we listening to the Holy Spirit prompt us as we rush here and there?
* Are we making time for the people God puts across our path (including our children).
* As we do all the things on our to-do list do we remember that we want to be like Christ – How would Jesus get ready for a family celebration?
* Are we remembering the fruit of the spirit in our life? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control?
It is as we make Jesus real this Christmas – a real part of our personal life, that we will make a difference with our kids.
Over to you:
What is the most significant Heart Lesson you want your Kids to get this Christmas?