If you’re feeling like you don’t know how, or there is resistance in your family, or you’re not doing enough, I’m going to show you how to figure out what traditions your already have, and how to make progress. Get the download “ Easy Steps to Family Holiday Traditions that Build Faith”, and look at the first page. By faith tradition, I don’t mean your style of church; I mean a tradition at the holidays that builds faith. 1. What is your favorite holiday tradition? It doesn’t have to be about faith… just what do you do every year that’s your favorite moment. 2. List all your holiday traditions. Now look at your worksheet, and use the space to list all your holiday traditions. List everything, not just the traditions that are about our faith. It’s not a lot of space so write small and start with the most important things. This is where you write down things like playing football in the yard after the Thanksgiving meal, making Christmas cookies, going to church on Christmas Eve, and helping a family in need in December. Take a couple of minutes to create your list of all your holiday traditions. 3. Circle your family’s faith building traditions Now look over your list and circle every tradition that builds up faith in Jesus. I hope you can see that your family does have holiday traditions that build up faith. In my family, we read Luke 2 before we start opening presents on Christmas morning. It reminds us why we we’re celebrating, and it helps the grandchildren remember that Jesus is more important than the stuff. What I love most about this tradition is that we didn’t always do it. It was a tradition in our daughter-in-law’s family, and the first time she was with us on Christmas morning, we did it at her suggestion. It’s such a perfectly lovely thing to do that now it’s our tradition, too. Now go back to your paper for a minute and write what you feel good about in your holiday traditions, and where you see gaps. Great work! You’ve looked at the holiday traditions your family has, now now we’re going to dream about what you would like to see. Discover New Family Traditions that Build Faith Let’s use Mark 12 as a framework for our holiday traditions. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. ~ Mark 12:30 CSB Our goal, right there in what Jesus calls the Greatest Commandment, is that our family would love the Lord. And that they would love God with their whole selves: their heart, their soul, their mind, and their strength. This verse gives us a grid for how we want to foster traditions that build faith. We want to reach different parts of our family. members. Loving God with their heart is their feelings. Loving God with their soul is with their being, their whole life. Loving God with their mind is their thinking. Loving God with their strength is through their doing. Let me give you an example of a holiday tradition for each one. Love God with your Heart A tradition that might help your family love God with their feelings might be to go outside on Christmas Eve when it’s dark and cold and starry, and sing Silent Night. That could be a powerful moment of amazement that God sent his beloved Son to earth. Love God with your Soul Think about what engages the soul of your family members. It might be something beautiful like the Christmas program at church, or something cozy like watching The Very First Noel (the best Christmas video for kids), or something funny like telling stories about the adult children when they were kids at Christmas. Love God with your Mind Loving God with your mind speaks to your rational family members and could be a tradition of listing the things that you’re thankful for at Thanksgiving. We’ve been doing that for many years, and it’s become a time capsule of God’s goodness to us year by year. Love God with your Strength It’s life-changing to give your family an opportunity to help others at the holidays. Giving them a tradition they do will help build a generous spirit in them. We’ve done Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes at our church the last few years. This year Luke and Arwen went with their dad to buy the things for the boxes; then they packed the boxes, wrote a note, and watched the video of kids getting their boxes. It was a profound lesson for them. Looking at it like this can help us plan holiday traditions that cover different aspects of loving God, and speak to family members with different personalities and interests. What kinds of holiday faith traditions would you like to nurture in your family? You probably already have some ideas in mind that you would like to see in your family. Try to place your ideas into those heart, soul, mind or strength categories. Feel free to dream. List ideas you’ve tried, or wanted to try, or read about on Pinterest. This is the time to dream. In a minute we’ll talk about how to do them. Think Small and Simple I want to share one of my favorite verses that I found during the pandemic. It’s from Zecharian 4:10: “for who despises the day of small things.” That’s to say, there’s nothing wrong with small things. In fact, I love small things because they’re simple. And I like simple because it’s easier to do and it happens more often. So as we think now about other things you might like to do to as traditions in your holidays that build faith, remember that we do no despise small things. We love small things! See at the bottom of the page: Faith building holiday traditions can be big or small, elaborate or simple. Next let’s talk about how to foster new faith-filled holiday traditions. Strategies to build new holiday faith traditions. Here are five principles that will help you add traditions that build up your family’s faith. 1.Be thoughtful. That means we think about what works for others, too, not only what would be meaningful for us. Everyone should look not to his own interests, but rather to the interests of others. ~ Philippian s 2:4 CSB I especially tune into what the mamas think will work for the family. They have the best sense. 2. Be flexible. You may have something special planned for after dinner, but then the baby’s tired and crying and the bigger kids are whiny, and that sweet meaningful moment evaporates. To be a blessing to your family is to say at the moment, “no worries, how about if we try again later.” 3. Be observant. To be observant means that you watch to see how it goes over. Are the parents relaxed and happy? Are the children engaged? If so, do it again next year. If not, try something else next time. 4. Be persistent. The fourth strategy is to be persistent . Don’t give up if it doesn’t go perfectly the first time. Keep trying, searching for the things that work, and doing them year after year. 5. Be prayerful. It’s up to Jesus to quicken the hearts of your family to make it a meaningful faith-building experience. You set the table and he provides the feast. Ask him to work, and trust him for the results… even if you don’t see it right away. Let’s Do This Get the free worksheet to help you think through your current holiday traditions, what you’d like to see, and how you can build new traditions. Pick something simple that seems doable, be prayerful, and have fun!