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Do you have a great family Christmas Advent Tradition?

Ask one hundred people on the street, "What does Christmas mean to you?" and you are likely to get 100 varied answers. The Christmas Advent Season always conjures up thoughts, feelings, and memories. Would you like to make the entire season more memorable, and more positive for those you love and care about? Thoughtfully establish a tradition!

Traditions can be wonderful "anchors" in a life of flux and uncertainty. Our best traditions remind us of our place and purpose in this world. And the good news is that you can establish your own tradition, and perhaps see it carried on for generations to come. And, it doesn’t have to be expensive.

Traditions centered around activities: Some families establish a tradition around the activities of the season. Shopping for the tree, decorating the tree as a family, going caroling, having a special Christmas dinner, going to Christmas Mass.

Traditions centered around the Message of Advent: Some families have established a tradition around the Message of the Advent season. As an example, we have for thirty four years gathered the entire family on Christmas eve, and read the story of Christmas from the gospel accounts, let the youngest participant put the story in their own words, which by the way is always good for some humor, offer a prayer of thanksgiving, and then opened one present each while Christmas music plays in the background. Even those family members now in other states with their own families or single, take a few minutes out on Christmas Eve to celebrate the wonder of the message of Christmas, sometimes checking in by phone to share in the tradition.

A Tradition centered around reaching out: We are aware of families that invite a person from their Parish or from a neighborhood nursing home to the home for Christmas dinner. Others choose to serve food in a local shelter for those with no home and no family. Still others deliver toys to homes where Christmas presents are an unlikely event.

The strength of establishing a tradition lies within the ability of the tradition to make the participants cease their normal activities, and focus on the deeper meanings within a holiday over cluttered with the frivolous and commercial. To be sure: We can enjoy the latter, and should. It just grounds us in truth to find our individual and collective methods of celebrating the incredible gift of the Christ Child.

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