Over the next few weeks, I’d like to share some of our Christmas traditions with you. Advent and Christmas are my favorite time of the year, bar none. It is an experience of the all the senses, but it must start with God’s word.
Nothing sets the Christmas mood like Christmas music. And not just any Christmas music, but the theologically accurate kind. (Not much love for Jingle Bells around here, though the instrumental adaptations can be fun.) For me, Christmas music starts sometime in November—and not always after Thanksgiving, no matter what anyone says. Over the years I’ve pulled together a carefully curated Spotify playlist aimed at variety. This year, we added a purely instrumental one for a little lighter background listening. My favorite Christmas hymn of all time is “O Holy Night”; there’s something about the solemn melody that gives me goosebumps. However, for a couple of years now I have found another song at least come very close to taking the top spot: “God Rest Ye” by our church musicians. I am adding links to all these below. With these playlists, our family singing together, and our church starting to incorporate more Christmas songs into the services, our ears are directing our hearts to the truth in Christmas.
We also let the written word guide us into the Christmas season. Starting on the first Advent Sunday, we read various Christmas-themed books and devotionals. We’ve collected several over the years, some free and others not. This year our church leadership is putting together short daily writings called “Sweet Hymns of Joy”, based on various Christmas hymns, so we are reading those at dinner together. Another tradition for us is “Keeping Holiday” by Starr Meade. It’s a fun, child-appropriate novel about a young boy who wants to experience year-round the magic of the annual winter vacation to the town of Holiday, only to find out that, what he thought was Holiday, has only ever been the visitor’s center. So he embarks on a journey to explore the real Holiday in search of its Founder. Each year my kids ask when we will start reading it, so I guess they aren’t tired of it yet. It sparks good conversations about our real “Founder”, and it’s fun to see the light bulbs come on when they draw the right parallels to the book.
Last year, we heard about Jólabókaflóðið, Iceland’s “Christmas Book Flood”, referring to many books being released in the weeks leading up to Christmas and thus ending up as Christmas gifts. Bookworms that we are, this sounded like a great tradition to add to our family! Now, books are one of two gifts we exchange on Christmas Eve (more about our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day traditions in a couple of weeks), to be read that evening in front of a cozy fire.
The music and writing we consume should and do provide the foundation for our Christmas celebration. If you are looking to build your own traditions are just need some new ideas for resources, maybe the following will be helpful. Merry Christmas!
- Christmas Instrumental Playlist (Spotify)
- Christmas Playlist (Spotify)
- God Rest Ye – Desert Springs Church