Our first few years of marriage, Christmas Eve and Day looked so different from how I grew up and even year to year they were different. I grew up with a small extended family, and my husband typically saw 100+ people every year at Christmas, so that was a big adjustment! Add on our job with The Navigators, and now we were “on”, relating with donors at Christmas Eve service or talking with relatives about our ministry during Christmas dinner.
Once we became parents, we wanted to be able to have some truly “off” time to celebrate Christmas as a family. We decided to pick a day before we travel or host to have our own family Christmas. We eat a special breakfast, play Christmas carols, read the story of Jesus’ birth, and spend time together as a family building a village of gingerbread houses. (Btw, we have somehow talked our kids into saving most of their Halloween candy for the gingerbread houses, so it is really inexpensive to make, and they intake much less sugar during the month of November!!). These days hold some of our most precious memories, and they help me embrace realistic expectations for the “real” Christmas later in the month.
Here are some ideas for travel-friendly traditions for littles:
- During the season of Advent, we begin each morning reading a short devotional with an Old Testament story and hang the corresponding ornament on a mini Christmas tree. We don’t do devotional books during the year right now, but for 25ish days, it is doable and the kids love the surprise of which ornament comes next… (Speaking of the ornaments, I did a swap with some women, so I made 25 sheep and came home with a complete set.) I use this devotional.
- I wrap all of our Christmas story books (picked up at thrift stores over the years), and the kids pick one each night for the month of December to unwrap and read together.
- We set up a nativity scene, minus baby Jesus. On Christmas morning, the kids run to the manger to see if Jesus has come.
- The Advent Book is definitely worth checking out. Each day you open a door and read a passage about Jesus’ birth. The kids effortlessly memorize Scripture and the illustrations are beautiful. This is an investment, but also the kind of book you could pass on for generations.
As a Mommy Missionary, I feel especially different from my neighbors during the month of December—we are finishing up 1-2-1’s for the semester, hosting student Christmas parties, writing year-end thank you notes, making funding calls, traveling, seeing family, friends, anddonors, etc. Yet in the midst of the busyness, I pray we will not miss time with Jesus and the opportunities we have to pass on faith to our kids. Let us model what we hope to see them do one day!
Linnette and her husband Dave began their marriage and Nav staff career ten years ago (EDGE and SIT at Colorado State) and they currently lead the collegiate Nav ministries in Nashville. They have four children: Kate (7), Kylie (5), McKenzie (3), and Daniel (2). Linnette and Dave are passionate about the shared mission of raising up disciple-makers and raising up their kids.