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Christmas Eve Services: A Family Tradition

Christmas has become the largest and most commercialized Holiday of the year. It basically begins the day after Thanksgiving on Black Friday, and we hear Christmas music played on the radio 24 hours a day until December 26.

Jonathan Howes

The Christmas season is busy with shopping, decorating, parties, moving The Elf on the Shelf, and pictures with Santa. We are all on a quest to buy our family and friends the “perfect” gift. And we want our children to experience “the best Christmas ever.”

Some of us get into decorating for Christmas, and it becomes a competition with our neighbors. Before you know it, our house is lit up like Clark W. Griswald’s in the popular movie, Christmas Vacation. Speaking of movies, one of our family traditions is watching Christmas movies. My dad loves, A Christmas Story because it is set during the time of his childhood. And our family favorite is The Elf starring Will Ferrell.

I would guess that all families have Christmas family traditions. We let our kids open one gift on Christmas Eve, and we save the rest for Christmas morning. Typically, our youngest child gets up first with excitement, and then she wakes up everyone else. Before we open our presents, I always read the true Christmas story found in Luke 2:1-20. And after we open gifts, my wife, Jennifer, prepares a HUGE breakfast with eggs, bacon, and pancakes. Then, on Christmas afternoon, our family goes to a movie together.

I personally believe that it’s important to build family traditions and create memories for a lifetime. As a kid growing up in South Mississippi, I have fond memories of going to my Grandma’s for Christmas. I can picture my Pa wearing a white muscle undershirt sitting in his recliner by the wood burning stove. Everyone else in their small house would be burning up, but he was perfectly content. I remember delicious food cooked by my sweet Aunts, the antics of my crazy uncles, and getting to roam across 200 acres of land with my cousins. I loved to go to Grandma’s for Christmas.

When my kids were young, we would go to my parent’s house or Jennifer’s parent’s house for Christmas. Now that we are older and more established, everyone comes to our house for Christmas. Our older kids are home from college. My parent’s drive up from Mississippi and Jennifer’s parents come down from Gainesville. Our most special family tradition has become attending the Christmas Eve Services at Graystone Church. It’s one of the few times a year that we are all together, and it’s very special to me that my family takes up an entire row at church. Attending Christmas Eve Services helps our family remember the true meaning of Christmas and keep our Holiday centered on Jesus. Worshiping together as a family on Christmas Eve has become our family’s most important Christmas tradition.

No matter what stage of life you are in, whether you are grandparents or a young couple just starting a family, I want to encourage you to make worshipping at a church on Christmas Eve one of your family’s Christmas traditions. It will help you and your family celebrate the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If you are not a member of a church or you do not regularly attend church, let me encourage you to find a church near your home to attend on Christmas Eve. I am confident that the pastor, church staff and members will welcome you and your family with open arms. Attending church this Christmas could be the beginning of your most important family Christmas tradition. May you and your family build memories for a lifetime and have a phenomenal Holiday season. Merry Christmas! 

Jonathan Howes has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Finance from Jacksonville State University and a Master in Divinity Degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the lead pastor for Graystone Church. Locations include the Ozora Campus: 1551 Ozora Road Loganville, GA 30052, the Walton Campus: 723 N Broad St Monroe, GA 30655 and the Oconee Campus: 1275 Lenru Road Bogart, GA 30622.
Phone: (770) 466-3159
Twitter: @JohnnyHowes