In spite of our disbelief, protestations, and general lack of preparation, we are officially entering the holiday season. With Thanksgiving two weeks away and Christmas just around the corner, today is a good day to stop and plan how we will use this season for God’s glory and our families’ good.

Holidays provide us, as parents, with the perfect opportunity to build lasting memories and family traditions into the lives of our children. This holiday season, refuse to major on the minors. Focus on the intangibles of building a sense of heritage and identity into your children. The material aspects of the holidays will gobble up the spiritual, if you allow them.

The following are just a few suggestions that you may want to implement as you build your own family traditions and memories. Always remember that Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. Begin and end your family celebrations and traditions with Him.  

1. Emphasize the importance of family worship and devotions. If allowed, the hustle and bustle of the holidays will crowd out the really important things. We must make worship a priority; it rarely just happens.  

2. Use the holidays as a time to visit and honor extended family. Grandparents and great-grandparents can give children a unique sense of heritage and belonging. 

3. Peruse through, or assemble, family albums. Your children need to take a trip with you down Memory Lane.  

4. Make service to others a priority during the holidays. Visit widows in your church and take them homemade treats. Add them to your prayer list throughout the year. Work with an organization like Project Angel Tree, whose focus is needy children. Take your children caroling to the homes of shut-ins in your community and your church. The possibilities are endless.  

5. Establish your own family traditions that you observe year-after-year-after-year. Every year, on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, my father takes my sons to deliver Thanksgiving meals and baskets to the needy. Baking and cooking together are fun traditions to establish. The men in my husband’s family always hunt together for a few days over the holidays. They rarely come home with any “big game,” but they spin great yarns and have great adventures together. Your family traditions will differ from our family traditions—that’s exactly what makes them family traditions. 

6. Remember to thank God throughout the holidays for the blessings that He has bestowed upon you and your family. Make it a goal to share your family’s blessings with others.

William Bradford, the leader of the Pilgrims and Governor of Plymouth Colony, wrote Of Plymouth Plantation, a history of the pilgrims’ sojourns and their settlement in the New World. In 1607, the Pilgrims left their beloved homeland of England because of severe religious persecution to settle in Holland. In 1620, the Puritans left the comforts and familiarities of the Old World and departed for America, where they could worship God freely and raise their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. Of the journey, William Bradford penned these words:

So being ready to departe, they had a day of solleme humiliation,
their pastor taking his texte from Ezra 8:21: “And ther at ye river,
by Ahava, I proclaimed a fast, that we might humble ourselves before our God and seeke of Him a right way for us, and for our Children, and for our substance.”

This Thanksgiving and Christmas, may we all, by the same Spirit who led and empowered William Bradford and the Pilgrims, also “seek of Him a right way for us and for our children.”

Zan Tyler is the editor of the Crosswalk.com HomeSchool Channel and co-author of the book Anyone Can Homeschool. She and her husband have three children and have been home schooling since 1984. Her sons are both in college, and they continue to home school their daughter. Zan founded the South Carolina Association of Independent Home Schools in 1990 and served as its president for ten years.