Pages Navigation Menu

Don't forget to make some memories!

A Holy Habit

A Holy Habit

I’m not a big fan of winter—I don’t recall a time when I ever was. I was told, “If you get involved in a winter sport, then you will love it.” I donned skies, skates, and snowshoes (but not all at once) and headed out into the chill.

I’ve lived in towns that gave me access to winter wonders like major ski slopes and the longest skating rink in the world. But, nope, that didn’t work; I still don’t like winter.

But in the middle of this season that I loathe, is a season that I love. Smack dab in the middle of all that coldness and short dark days is Christmas. The season of light came just when I needed it!

I loved the lights, the tree, the special baked goods Mom only made in December, the music, and (I admit it) the presents. But as a young boy, I wasn’t too keen on the church part of Christmas. Yes, the center of the celebration is something I could do without.

When I entered my twenties, I finally figured out why.  Much of my church teaching as a boy involved a separation of the “cultural” Christmas and the “church” Christmas. From them, I learned it was bad to enjoy any element of Christmas other than the nativity. Although my parents didn’t promote the idea, I felt that somehow enjoying all the season had to offer was a sin because I found it more pleasing to eat a Christmas cookie than to take Christmas communion. I suspect I’m not the only one who grew up that way.

The colors, the lights, the fun events, the gift exchanges, all the glittering elements of December were propped up as anti the real Christmas—even sinful. What I needed was a clarification of priorities, and yet it seemed like I had to choose one or the other.  Whether this was what the church of my youth was teaching, or it was my interpretation, I still had felt this way. But I determined as a parent, things were going to be different.

I decided I would ensure priorities, but not at the expense of the totality. I would promote the reason for the season with my children. I would acknowledge the Christmas story as the greatest part of the celebration, but not at the condemnation of the rest.

I realized the very tenants of the modern celebration stem from the Nativity story—the ultimate gift, the feeling of good will, the light in the middle of darkness, the warm comfort entering into our cold lives. These are all extensions of the birth in Bethlehem. So instead of fighting the season, we connected things back to the nativity. For instance, as early as they could understand it, my children knew the church history of Saint Nicholas. Not all the culture promotes in the season can be connected, but most of it can if we’ll just look for those teachable moments.

Paramount in my pledge is the annual reading of the Christmas story with my children.  We arise on Christmas morning, clean up, and get dressed. Then we sit down as a family and read the story together.

In the early days we did it from Bible-based picture books, but as they aged, we started reading directly from the Scriptures. Initially I did the reading, but as soon as they were old enough, I allowed my boys to take over, alternating the sections. And we would talk about it.  I would ask them to imagine the night. We would talk about why Jesus needed to visit Earth and how it mattered in their lives today.

It’s a highly valued portion of our Christmas. We have had this sacred habit since the very first year the children were with us. When the day comes when my children will hold my grandchildren in their hands, I hope they too will focus the season with this holy habit.

By: Dave Trouten is the married father of two teenage boys and a Division Chair & Professor of Communication at Kingswood University.

Join us at for our parenting blog each Monday-Friday and for info about the Just 18 Summers novel.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leaderboard Ad