Meaningful Christmas traditions and how to wrangle them

I’ve tried various esoteric practices involving veiled candles, bits of straw, paper chains, acts of service, gift lotteries, medieval anagrams, and every other kind of overachieving cultural what-have-you that caught my eye while I was desperate to make everything Meaningful For The Children.

I remember one year worrying so hard about materialism that I told the kids that one of their presents would be the opportunity to choose a gift for a poor child, and donate it. It wasn’t a bad idea . . . for the older kids. The younger kids, predictably, misunderstood horribly, and it was bloody awful. I only hope they’re so young, they don’t remember the year Mama apparently told them they could pick a toy for themselves and then forced them to dump it into a box and walk away for no reason at all. AT CHRISTMAS.

So. We don’t do that anymore. Through the decades, here is what I have learned about Christmas family traditions . . . 

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5 thoughts on “Meaningful Christmas traditions and how to wrangle them”

  1. I have found that it doesn’t matter how often you do a tradition, the kids will remember it as having happened every year anyway. For instance, lighting the Advent wreath and singing O Come O Come Emmanuel seems like an easy one to keep, right? But there were probably two or three years where I was too drained from sh…tuff going on in our lives that I couldn’t even deal with simple ones like that. Even so, every one of my kids could a pass a lie detector test that lighting the Advent wreath and singing O Come O Come Emmanuel is a set in stone tradition that we’ve done faithfully every year.

  2. As a protestant ethnic german family we were taught the shoe treat day was when Knecht Ruprecht, an elf, put candy in your shoe.

  3. Great article!
    And I gotta know… do you write things like “bloody awful” or does an editor go through and replace something like “freaking terrible” for you?

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