Celebrate Cherished Christmas Traditions While Creating 10 New Ones of Your Own - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)

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December 22, 2016

Celebrate Cherished Christmas Traditions While Creating 10 New Ones of Your Own

Maybe it’s attending midnight church service on Christmas Eve with the whole family, or the one-person-at-a-time gift-opening ritual the next morning that warms your heart the most. The holiday season is infused with traditions -- customs passed from generation to generation because the of the invaluable significance they hold for us.

As Christians, this holiday is a time to renew our faith, reflect upon the past year, and give generously to those in need. In fact, the gift-giving tradition of Christmas traces back to the Three Kings' offerings to the infant Jesus in that humble Bethlehem cave.

While you probably have a list of Christmas traditions that hold deep, symbolic meaning and importance in your relationships with family and friends, how about creating a few of your own this year? We’ve got 10 very doable ideas to inspire you.

1) Start an annual clean-out-your-closet tradition. Purge anything you’ve not worn once in the previous year, and donate it to a local charity of your choice.

2) Adopt a local family in need of a Christmas meal and gifts. Go through the Salvation Army’s program, or reach out to local church groups or social services agencies for a lead in your area.

3) Love animals? Contact a local shelter or rescue group that offers a Foster a Lonely Pet for the Holidays program. Want to combine your love of holiday baking with your passion for pets? Whip up a huge batch of healthy dog and cats treats, and drop them off at local shelters.

4) Purchase or make an ornament for each family member that signifies something personally meaningful to them. Commemorate an achievement from the year ending, celebrate a milestone, or remind them of an especially funny episode you’ve shared. They’ll revisit this memory every year when they trim the tree.

5) Make a list of every person who brought goodness and light into your life this year, and handwrite a Christmas card that acknowledges your gratitude.

6) Gather with family, and alternate reading aloud passages from Luke 2:1-20, the Christmas Story.

7) Be especially kind to your elderly neighbors over the holidays. Many may be without family members or spouses, and this time of year can be painfully difficult. Offer to purchase and transport a real Christmas tree for them, string their outdoor lights, or take them Christmas shopping. Even just a genuine, “Is there anything I can help you with this week?” might make their holidays easier and more joyful.

8) Create a personalized photo calendar on Shutterfly or Snapfish for friends or family showcasing some of your favorite memories from the year just ending. Treat your parents to a calendar full of treasured childhood highlights. They’ll think of you with love every month of the new year.

9) Pile in the car with mugs full of steaming hot cocoa, and drive through neighborhoods to view the decorative light displays. It’s just as much fun now as when you were a kid. We Americans spend billions of dollars every year on Christmas decorations, so get out there and give people their money’s worth in appreciation. You can even wear your jammies!

10) Take inspiration from a charming tradition from the American Southwest by lighting your front path with luminarias. These small paper lanterns are easy to make, and they signify the “lighting of the way” for Mary and Joseph as they searched for a place to stay. It’s a wonderful way to welcome the Christ child into the world.