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I have to admit that as a mom of a growing young family, I have come through the holidays feeling a bit badgered by the array of traditions I coulda / woulda / shoulda implemented to create the best memories for my family. I am sure that is not the point of traditions, but how do I pick and choose?

Sincerely, Tripped up by Traditions

Dear Traditions,

You are not wrong! The opportunities for making a picture-perfect, memory-capturing, warm fuzzy Christmas seem to abound and can certainly overwhelm. But remember it is often mama who gets the privilege of choosing which traditions her family will embrace. That is an honor you can have some fun with!

First, you might speak with your husband to see what traditions are most meaningful to him. That might offer the direction you need. Then foremostly in your holiday traditions, I would encourage you to participate in events and traditions which make Christ central.  This could be attending a few well-planned Christ-centered events or memorizing scripture together. Next I might suggest you look back. Are there familial or cultural traditions which you or your husband participated in, growing up, which you want to pass onto your children?  If you never cared for Grandma’s spice cookies, don’t feel obligated to make them. But if you want to pass on the art of her homemade streusel, the holidays might make for a great time to do that. Next, look ahead. Traditions will no doubt change as your family grows and matures so try set precedents for ones that can be modified and that practically take into account your future family, cost-wise, time-wise, etc… Try to establish things you can and want to maintain over time. Afterall, that is what in essence makes it a tradition.

Finally, remember simplicity has a beauty all its own. A few simple but meaningful traditions will go a long way in building memories in your family. Through it all, aim for being a mom with a joyful heart. Your kids will remember that most.

I find myself, like many others, lonely this time of year. I loved raising my children! They are now mostly grown. So while our holidays are very good, they are quite different than they used to be when the kids were little. I am considering how to embrace this new season God has me in.  Any insights?

Thank you, Sally Sojourner


Dear Sally,

This answer runs a little deeper than how to clean a closet but it is about making home. Have you ever been on a long awaited vacation only to find you have a twinge of sadness in the very middle of it? Maybe because all the anticipation of the trip has now been realized, or because time is passing too quickly, or perhaps because you will inevitably return to your real life challenges once it is over. There can often be a longing in our hearts–even during good times–and the holidays are no exception. We may long for what once was, or for what isn’t now, or for what may never be. I heard some thought-provoking prose recently from one author on this idea of longing for HOME.  I will share it here [excerpted] as a reminder that though we build “home” here, our true home–if we call Christ LORD, is yet to come. 

Even when home is the best it’s ever been, there remains a longing for something we can’t quite touch… We know there is more than this because even at its best, something is not quite right. Longing is woven into our hearts. It is the golden thread that connects us together as citizens and foreigners at once. This is the paradox of home. 

As we continue to learn what it truly means to be home, may we say along with Peter, “Lord, where else would we go?” Because even with the questions we carry, even in the fog of mystery, even in the pain we see and feel in the world, we confess to Jesus along with Peter “We have no other home but You.” 

How is God inviting the home-sick home?…Hope is always an option. We have a new family legacy in Christ. One of kindness, wholeness, love and new life. Belonging is our birthright and now God calls us His home. [John 15]

Still we wait. We wait for the day when we will sit together at the banquet table of our Father. When the storms have passed and the shaking has stilled. When the sleepless nights burst forth into the bright light of morning. When the heartbreak is eased and the death sting is healed. And the deformities re-form into resurrection life. Until then we will treasure every glimpse of home we get. -Emily P. Freeman

May we not fear the future nor the present nor long too long for what once was. May we remember the hope of Glory, Christ who has made a home in us will someday bring us sojourners to the real, fulfilling rest for which our hearts long. 

Happy New Year!