Traditions Help Us Remember And Forget


It was a cold winter morning and sleepy kids were getting out of bed. That meant breakfast time AND the kids were hungry! They came down the stairs with messy bed heads, in their super-hero pajamas and asked, “Dad, what’s for breakfast?”

“I am making eggs and toast,” I replied. ‘“We want milk & cookies instead,” they shouted. Of course, I said, “no.” I offered a compromise. “How about pancakes?” To which they emphatically replied, “Yes, pancakes with chocolate chips!”

As I began cooking golden brown pancakes with chocolate chips, I thought to myself: “Hold on a minute...did I just get ‘duped’ into feeding my children chocolate for breakfast?” That’s when I realized that I told them they couldn’t have small chocolate chip cookies and milk for breakfast … but they COULD have GIANT “chocolate chip cookies,” (pancakes) WITH syrup, instead!

What was I thinking? Why was it acceptable for the kids to eat giant chocolate chip cookies (pancakes), and unacceptable for them to have chocolate chip cookies?

It’s called “tradition!” Tradition made it “okay” to eat chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast, but not chocolate chip cookies! 



I started thinking about other traditions that can deceive us, especially during holidays. Surely we’re not THAT gullible!

After thinking about it, I quickly realized that there are many traditions that minimize the actual meaning. Here are common traditions that come to mind:

Christmas songs in our daily lives

Many Christmas songs have become a staple in our ‘holiday’ lives. Including songs played in retail stores, doctors’ offices, shopping malls and banks. For example:

I could be at the grocery store, buying deodorant and toothpaste and hear the traditional Christmas song, “Silent Night”’ playing overhead. I likely won’t realize that the song is playing ... while I hum along. Never mind that I am likely dismissing the actual meaning of the song. Tradition has diminished the meaning. 

Silent Night & Joy To The World

The lyrics to these songs are impactful. However, these songs are often used in movies and television shows. Are they really delivering the message that the songwriter intended?  Or, is a scene of carolers singing “Joy to the World” in a Hallmark® Christmas movie merely appealing to the viewers’ emotions and feelings of tradition?

Other traditions that water down Christmas

The Nativity 

What is the real meaning of the Nativity? Are we trying to remind ourselves that God sent His only Son because He loves us? Does a Lego® Darth Vader, Super Mario® action figure or plush Yoda nativity count?



Decorating a Christmas tree

Are we celebrating Jesus or the ‘Tree of Life’ from the book of Genesis? Is the tree pointing up to Jesus? What do the plastic Elvis or a Chuck Norris holding a candy cane cutout hanging on the tree have to do with Jesus? Why do some of us put a Pickle in the Christmas Tree? Has that particular tradition become a really a “big dill”?



Christmas Cards

Do we send Christmas cards to symbolize the message that the three wise men delivered? Do we just send cards to let others know we’re thinking of them around Christmas time? Or show others what we have been doing all year? Is it just tradition? 


It’s fine to enjoy all of our Christmas traditions and make new ones. After the ‘Pancakes vs Cookies lesson, I’m going to make an effort to enjoy the true meaning of the traditions that the world has watered down over time. 

Here are a few ideas of traditions for your family at Christmas.

  1. Really listen to the words of faith-based Christmas songs and embrace their meaning and  message.
  2. Enjoy good fun, fellowship and food with people around you.
  3. Remind our kids why we celebrate Christmas and that it’s really all about Jesus. Show them how and where to read the Truth of the nativity in the Bible.
  4. Be thankful for God’s Word in a language we can understand and reflect on what God’s Word teaches us about the birth of Jesus.

From our family to yours, we wish you a “silent night” and a joyful, Christ-filled Christmas.