A Season of Celebration
Christmas is a joyous season in which we remember the birth of Christ while looking forward to his second coming. We celebrate in many different ways and develop our own cherished traditions within our families that foster love and goodwill with loved ones and that help unify us in the worship of Jesus in a special way during this season.
We asked the authors of a number of Crossway kids’ books to describe their favorite Christmas traditions that they keep each year. Read what they had to say, be enriched as you reflect on the meaningful rhythms of the season, and perhaps even find inspiration to incorporate new traditions into your own celebrations this Christmas.
“Our family likes to focus on togetherness and relationship. We do this beyond Christmastime, but during the holidays, we spend a lot of time cooking together. We have matching aprons and gather in the kitchen, singing traditional holiday songs and hymns. We are almost always together, but it’s often accompanied by cooking and eating!”
—Trillia Newbell, Author of Jesus and the Gift of Friendship
“Christmas time is a season of hearth fires at the Osborne house. With all the errands, parties, and events hovering around the Christmas holiday, the evenings tend to settle with everyone on the couch, chairs, or on the floor next to a fire. Conversations pop up like sparks from the logs, and these sweet times of catching up, snuggling, and reading have become one of my favorite traditions of the holiday season.”
—William R. Osborne, Author of God, You Are
“My husband and I have three young kids with short attention spans, so we’ve enjoyed a simple but rich Advent tradition we like to call ‘the envelopes.’ We hang 25 small paper envelopes on our Christmas tree, labeled with numbers, and inside each one is a Bible verse (and usually a small treat!). The kids love searching for the day’s envelope, and then we open the Bible and read the verse. My husband shares a one-sentence explanation for it, and then we pray a one-sentence prayer. Simple! But it has tuned our noisy hearts to Jesus, the true meaning of Christmas, helping us appreciate his birth, anticipate his coming, and love him more.”
—Kristen Wetherell, Author of the For the Bible Tells Me So series
“When I was young, my family owned a big stack of Christmas picture books. Rather than keep these on the shelf year round, we packed them away and were not allowed to get them out until after Thanksgiving. Seeing the books again each year felt like being reunited with old friends. I’m now building a collection of Christmas books for my own children. I hope they will have the same joy of ringing in the Advent and Christmas season by bringing down Christmas books from the attic.”
—Betsy Childs Howard, Author of Arlo and the Great Big Cover-Up and Polly and the Screen Time Overload
“For our first Christmas together my wife gave me a Lego dragon. I built it up and stuck it on the Christmas tree. After all, the lurking serpent is part of the Christmas story too. Years later, my daughter joined us and we gave her a small cuddly lamb. So I moved the dragon down the tree and put the lamb on top. Ever since, that’s been our traditional decoration. The dragon beneath the feet of the lamb, the promise of Christmas.”
—James Shrimpton, Author of The King and the Dragon
“Christmas week, we always choose a dark and hopefully snow-falling night. Our family bundles up in winter coats, loads into a vehicle, and makes our way to a nearby coffee shop. We each find a hot chocolate or coffee (age-appropriate), load back into the vehicle, and set off for an evening of lights. The night is consumed with finding the best house with the best holiday light-display; and as we drive, we listen to the best holiday Christian music. It is a silly little tradition. Yet, I find it to be one of my favorite nights of the season because the conversations are light, time slows down, and we are simply together. Christmas, too often, becomes frenetic and hurried. This night is simple and beautiful.”
—Jason Helopoulos, Author of The Promise
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“One of our favorite family traditions during the Christmas season is the Jesse Tree. The Jesse Tree recounts the story of redemption using twenty-five ornaments as symbols to represent different Bible stories, all pointing to the coming Messiah. Years ago, a friend organized a Jesse Tree party, with 25 women who each made 25 of the same ornament. During the party, each participant placed one of her ornaments in everyone else’s box. At the end of the night, we all went home with a complete, homemade Advent Jesse Tree set. For me, each of these ornaments is a special reminder—both of the story it represents, and the friend who fashioned it for me.”
—Melissa B. Kruger, Author of Lucy and the Saturday Surprise
“Since childhood, my favorite Christmas tradition has been Christmas caroling with my church. On a December Sunday afternoon, members meet at the church, wrapped in coats and scarves with good walking shoes on our feet. We send the children to knock on neighborhood doors (‘May we sing you a Christmas carol?’), and we stand on frosty front lawns, singing the good news of God become man to die for sinners like us. Our neighbors—who, in the most secular region of the country are unlikely to be believers—welcome our sung words of gospel hope. One or two even wipe away a tear.”
—Megan Hill, Author of Meg Is Not Alone
“My family’s favorite Christmas tradition involves all things related to Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb of God album and tour. Since the original album was released in 2004, it has been the formative soundtrack of our home each December. Behold the Lamb of God is not just a collection of Christmas music, it’s an integrated cycle of songs that carries the listener through the Bible’s grand narrative of redemption—or, as Peterson puts it, ‘the true tall tale of the coming of Christ.’ As the years have gone by, these songs have woven themselves into the fabric of my family, shaping our biblical imagination and helping us see how all Scripture points to Jesus. We’re coming up on our 17th consecutive year attending the concert, an experience that always fills us with joy as we ‘gather ’round to listen to the old, old story.’”
—Scott James, Author of The Sower
“Each year when we put away our Christmas decorations, we write out a list of predictions for the following year. Sometimes they’re silly, like predicting the next president, and sometimes they’re serious, like one of our children meeting a missed milestone we’ve been praying fervently for. Then the next year, when we pull out our decorations, we read through the prior year’s list. It’s always such a sweet time of reflection as we see the way God has answered prayers, the way he has grown each of us that year, and the way he has blessed us beyond our expectations. The rich conversation that follows helps to set our hearts on the Lord’s blessings at the beginning of the Christmas season, and we inevitably end up chit-chatting all month about what predictions and prayers we have for the year to come.”
—Devon and Jessica Robyn Provencher, Author and Illustrator of the Big Theology for Little Hearts Series
“Our Christmases don’t package themselves into tidy traditions. We’ve tried cutting down our own tree and towing it across a field; it’s magical in the snow, miserable in the mud. We’ve prepared sprawling Christmas dinners for whomever the Lord brings; last year, the power went out mid-roast. The kids have made adorable salt dough Christmas ornaments, only for us to discover them cracked apart the following year. We are broken and fallen, and at Christmastime our attempted plans flaunt the cracks.
The one constant year-to-year has been God’s kindness. He’s provided food when the oven’s fizzled, and laughter when we’ve broken ornaments. He’s humbled us, held us, and showed us why the baby in the manger is such good news. During our nightly family worship at Christmas, reflections on his love for us in Christ—on how his plans and ways are perfect—have been the best tradition ever. (A very distant second is our kids’ yearly naming of our Christmas tree. ‘Snickerdoodle’ was a favorite.)”
—Kathryn Butler, Author of The Dream Keeper Saga