Sunday our family gathered around as we normally do on the first day of Advent for our annual brainstorming session. Each year we share ideas of different activities we can do as a family to celebrate the season – ideas like baking cookies for a neighbor, having a game night, or taking a trip. As in any brainstorming session, we try not to limit the ideas. Then we set to work on getting rid of the ideas that we don’t want to do or we can’t do because of time, finances or some other reason. The next step continues to hone the ideas – what do we want to make sure we do?
As my wife began to star each idea that we said we would like to do, we quickly realized that everything was going to get stared. So we regrouped and asked a different question. We said that we would try to do as much on the list as we could, but we need to know “What things on the list, if we didn’t do them, it wouldn’t be Christmas?”
The list that emerged contained most of the things that we do every year. Baking cookies for others, making a countdown chain, game night, viewing Christmas lights and looking for a service opportunity.
As we sat back, my wife said, “You know what we’ve done?”
“We’ve created Christmas traditions. That’s pretty amazing.”
Neither of us had many traditions growing up so it is neat to see how intentional repetition over time has shaped the expectations of our boys. They find security and joy in the anchor of these traditions and I expect that they will carry some of them to their homes.
It’s pretty amazing to think that what I am doing now could have an effect on a generation that I will never meet on this side of heaven – but then again, that’s the whole idea.