In our family December 1st is one of the most sacred days of the year. Come rain, snow, sleet or hail nothing can stop this day so sacred (Ya, I know, it doesn’t rhyme but you try rhyming with ‘sacred’). On this day of days I enter the crawl space and haul plastic tote after plastic tote up the stairs. Christmas ornaments, decorations, lights and the tree – one by one I haul them out. And thus begins the annual assembly of our holiday environment.

It happens almost the same way each year. I untangle the outdoor Christmas lights which mysteriously get entwined no matter how carefully I lay them in their tote. (I have long believed that sometime during the year these cords awake from their slumber and play several games of Twister until they are so entangled they can’t move). Once the Christmas lights are in place with the star at the center, I move indoors to assemble the tree.

Traditions are vital to families

Yes it is fake but hey, this is our tradition and we like it. I discovered I could disassemble it with the lights still on it, place it in its box and presto next year save time and some frustration. Then the girls set out to decorate the tree, amid comments like, “Remember when I made this one? No you didn’t I painted that. Look at the bottom, I have my name on it” or “Do we still want to put these on the tree?” My dear wife is in the kitchen adding her perfect touch to this day. The smells of corn chowder and fresh buns waft (always wanted to use that word) through the house.

Dr. Bill Doherty, Professor in the Department of Family Social Science at the University of Minnesota described the importance of traditions saying:

There are so many ways for families to move apart and not connect that if you just go with the flow the flow is going to do disperse you. . . . The biggest reason that it’s important to have some family rituals and traditions is to be able to make sure you have an opportunity to connect on a regular basis.

Family traditions are an anchor in busy times, something to look back and something to look forward to.

As we sit down for our meal and look at the tree lit up in our dark front room, we feel a connectedness that good traditions bring to a family. Traditions don’t just happen, they take effort which is why we keep December 1st sacred. It comes first before school, work, meetings or appointments. We have the whole year to make sure our schedules are clear that day so we are all free to spend the day together.

Over the years our traditions have evolved and as our family continues to grow they will change and flex. What makes a great tradition? When with fondness and a touch of nostalgia a family member says “We always…” Traditions are sacred to us and we always look forward to starting our celebration of Jesus birth with our sacred day December 1.


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Written by Neal Black

Neal Black

Neal works at Power to Change developing leaders. His passion is to challenge people to listen to God and develop their giftedness as they follow where Jesus leads. Neal and June speak at One Day events for FamilyLife. They love to communicate God’s game-plan for relationships with humour, energy and lots of stories!