Finding Purpose in Our Christmas Traditions

How can we find value in celebrating Christmas?The last couple of weeks, Ben and I have been talking about Christmas celebrations.  Honestly, it feels like they bring more distraction than joy.

Is it possible to remember the real meaning of Christmas if we still celebrate the normal way?

Our Family Questions

We’re pondering what Christmas should really look like:  presents, traditions, decorations, parties, etc.  We haven’t reached any conclusions, but now we’re evaluating how we do Christmas and what we value.  When it comes to celebrating, these are the questions we’re going to ask:

  • What purpose does this activity have?
  • Does this focus our attention on what’s really important?

Using these, or creating your own, family questions might help you to see the things that are distractions or figure out ways to add even deeper meaning to your traditions.

Our Family Tradition

Since the year we got married, we find a Christmas tree ornament that represents our lives over the past year.  My favorite so far is the fleur-de-lis we found the year we moved to Louisville.  This year, after asking our questions of purpose and focus, we decided to add to the fun tradition to help us focus on family and faith even more:

At Thanksgiving, we will spend time as a family writing in a journal the significant things that defined the past year.  We want to spend time making more than just a list of what we’re thankful for; it will help us reflect on who our family was that year.  Together, we will pick from the list one major thing that characterized that year and what kind of ornament could represent it.

When we get out the Christmas tree, instead of getting caught up in having the newest styles of ornaments or fighting over decorations, the only ornaments we will use will be the “year” ones.  That way everything will have meaning and purpose.  Our family can gather around to tell the story of us through every year’s ornament.  Instead of focusing on creating an impressive decoration, we want the tree to help us focus on family memories by remembering our story and what God has done in our lives over the years.  I’m so excited for the years to go by and for our family to grow in this tradition.

What Can Your Christmas Do Without?

Don’t feel pressure to make the existing (and chaotic) way of doing Christmas meaningful.  You don’t have to participate in every tradition out there.  Make the meaning of Christmas central first, then add celebrations that fit your values.  When you ask your family’s questions, the distractions won’t fit, and the best celebrations can become even more meaningful traditions.


For some interesting thoughts about Christmas and consumerism, check out Children, Christmas, and the Materialism Battle from The Simple Dollar.  The author gives advice about how to create great childhood Christmas memories without raising kids who associate happiness with material things.

Here are some other Christmas ideas (but only if they help your family’s focus this year):
Celebrating Advent – This is advent with lighting of five candles and readings.
Cookies and Cocoa – Open house for friends and neighbors on my friend Shareen’s blog.
Minute-to-win-it Family Christmas Party  – Get everyone involved in a large gathering.
Christmas Letters  – Write letters to your children each year and hang them on the tree.
Serving Others on Christmas Day – Drive around to give little gifts to those working on Christmas, like at the gas station.


  1. Great article. Thanks for sharing this and I am honored that you linked to our Cookies and Cocoa page. It has a been a great and meaningful tradition among our friends and neighbors and for us, as a family. This year my 10-year old started something to add to it called RAKLouisville. Random Acts of Kindness throughout the month of December in Louisville – “So all of Louisville be kind”. His little friends have embraced it and I love seeing their enthusiasm.

  2. Thank you for including my idea in your list :)
    Mel @ Trailing After God recently posted…Giving Life This ChristmasMy Profile

  3. Hi Jo, I actually just found your blog through our mutual friend, Shareen! I really like your ideas and thoughts on really giving meaning to each activity here at Christmas. It’s easy to get lost in the bustle of things, but as we reflect on our favorite Christmases -at least when I do– they were in my childhood and doing the most simplistic things with family. I love your ideas, and I’ve also had a cookies & cocoa party! What joy it brings:)
    I’ll be back to read more.

  4. My husband and I have also been contemplating which Christmas traditions to keep and which to give up. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the topic!
    Shannon recently posted…Convenient Freezer LabelsMy Profile

  5. Love the idea of a family ornament! I purchased ornaments for each of my children every year, and was able to give them all to them when they married. Now I’m starting the tradition over with my grandchildren.
    Lisa recently posted…THE BLAME GAMEMy Profile


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