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Traditions can feel like a lot of work, but they carry the blessing of drawing us  close to God and to each other. Each family embraces their own traditions that unite them together and create lasting memories.

I recall stepping from the van and feeling the cold air meeting my face. Pulling on gloves and mittens, our four children ran in circles on the well-beaten grass. I zipped my coat and closed the door and we headed toward the farm. The fragrance of fresh pine filled the winter wind and the whole of it washed over me with memories long and clear. Our annual trip to the Christmas Tree farm-- seems we have been doing this forever.

I remember…

As parents of one child, I carried him from place to place and set him down on unstable feet, watching him sit in piles on needles that clung to his pants and his flannel coat.

Coming with two kids on a snowy day, both of them crying as the flakes melted and drenched their tiny gloves and shoes.

Third child born, I watched my boys run through the fields grabbing branches in bunches and leaving with sap-sticky hands.

Watching my family complete, four children to love and enfold, walking confidently from tree to tree, hoping that theirs would be chosen this year.

Handing the saw to our oldest as he began the process of cutting our tree.

Watching the faces of my youngest two when, unexpectedly, Santa showed up at the Christmas tree farm and tousled their hair and smiled at their smiles as they tried to find the courage to say hello.

People ask me sometimes why we go through the trouble.  An hour drive, the chilly days, the hassle of doing it all. To be honest, I cannot understand the question. This is a part of our life. This is a part of our shared experience, and I cherish it deeply every year.  It moves me to think that this is the life my children get to enjoy.  I am overwhelmed by the thought that my memories are their memories and that this is something we get to share. 

Not every family has the tradtion of getting a real Christmas tree, but every family can create traditions that draw the family together year after year. Your family may enjoy:

  • Caroling in the neighborhood or at a local nursing home.
  • Hosting an annual neighborhood party.
  • Attending a Christmas pagent or candle light service.
  • Baking cookies or holiday treats together.
  • Surprising each other with secret santa gifts.
  • Lighting advent candles.
  • Singing Christmas carols together around the dinner table.

Choose to establish whatever traditions work best for your family. Don't worry about how other families choose to celebrate, this is not a competition. Find what works best for your own family to reconnect with Jesus and with each other this holiday.

Maybe it would be easier to unpack a tree or choose off a local lot, but I am not looking for easier. I am looking for these moments, stacked upon one another, good and bad, beautiful and hard, set out for me to see. My family is growing up here. Right before my eyes.

On the way home, we sip hot chocolate in the van and the tree is tied on top and I feel like my life is a scene from a Norman Rockwell painting. We listen to Christmas music and my children sing and no one is too old and no one is too cool because this is who we are and it’s okay.

With the highway before me, I hear my children sing with Amy Grant, “Emmanuel.  Emmanuel.  Wonderful counselor. Lord of Life! Lord of all!” and the truth of it becomes real to me again. This truth is woven in these regular places and His name is blessed anew. He is God with us.  Here in the van.  Out in the field. As we begin this season together.

May your family find traditions together that draw you closer to God and to one another.


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