Thursday, December 4, 2014

Are Christmas Traditions Bad?

by Katy White

As a mom to a two-year old, I don't have many Christmas traditions in place yet. So as I've watched friends' Instagram and Facebook feeds over the last week, I've taken special note of the cute traditions that my friends participate in with their families. I've seen a lot of elves on shelves and Christmas family movie nights, gingerbread men decorating and Christmas crafts. I've noticed a trend about getting new pajamas, whether it's for the night the family decorates the tree or planned for Christmas eve. 

Yet, I've also noticed criticism about these traditions. Contentious comments on posts, snide remarks whispered under someone's breath at an elaborate Christmas party. A friend posted on her FB wall that she gets a lot of flack for doing the Elf on the Shelf daily. 

I'll admit, doing anything elaborately isn't my style or in my comfort zone, but I feel like there's something more at play here than personal style in these comments and criticisms. There's nothing inherently wrong in Christmas traditions, is there? LDS Living recently posted an article about "What Prophets Have Said About Santa Clause." I enjoyed hearing from different prophets and general authorities about their feelings on what is arguably the biggest Christmas tradition of all in old Saint Nick. And they're all good. 

Prophets consistently ask us to remember the real reason for Christmas, but they don't tell us we must limit our gifts to three per child because "that's how many the Savior received" (which is a very sweet, if inaccurate idea for parents who choose to go this route). They don't say that if we're going to give stockings, we must do so only if we relate the symbolism of the stocking back to the shepherds who first found the Christ child (or however those symbols work). 

They tell us, 
"As we seek Christ, as we find Him, as we follow Him, we shall have the Christmas spirit, not for one fleeting day each year, but as a companion always. We shall learn to forget ourselves. We shall turn our thoughts to the greater benefit of others" (Thomas S. Monson, "In Search of the Christmas Spirit," Ensign, Dec 1987, 3).
There is a magic in Christmas. Hearts are opened to a new measure of kindness. Love speaks with increased power. Tensions are eased....  At this time of Christmas, this season when gifts are given, let us not forget that God gave His Son, and His Son gave His life, that each of us might have the gift of eternal life" (Gordon B. Hinckley, "The Son of God," Ensign, Dec 1992, 2).
And they give us beautiful, kind reminders, like:
"If you desire to find the true spirit of Christmas and partake of the sweetness of it, let me make this suggestion to you. During the hurry of the festive occasion of this Christmas season, find time to turn your heart to God. Perhaps in the quiet hours, and in a quiet place, and on your knees—alone or with loved ones—give thanks for the good things that have come to you, and ask that His Spirit might dwell in you as you earnestly strive to serve Him and keep His commandments" (Howard W. Hunter, "The Real Christmas," Ensign, Dec 2005, 22–25).
The adversary wants Christmas to be a horrible time. Yes, he wants us to be distracted from Christ, but he also wants to turn everything good about this time into something bad. If someone home-makes something nice, he wants us to dismiss her as a "Pinterest Mom." If someone doesn't handcraft treats and gifts for her kids's friends at school, he wants us to think she doesn't care enough about her children. He wants us to take everything to extremes, because he despises everything good in this world.
And what secular tradition brings out the good in people more than Christmas? 
As we seek to give our loved ones the best this season, let us also seek to give the best of ourselves to our friends and family through our support and love. 
Merry Christmas to all!


  1. This is great! Everyone has different strengths and finds joy in doing different traditions. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Amen!! I love all my friends, crafty and not-so-crafty, nerdy and spacey, etc. :-) It bugs me when I hear others saying (or catch myself thinking) negative things about moms who go all out in their traditions. Isn't it great that we are all different? Awesome!

  3. Christmas traditions are great well I think they are we don't have many but we do have some

  4. Amen, sister! To rewrite an Article of Faith, I say we claim the privilege of celebrating Christmas according to the dictates of our own conscience and allow all men (and women) the same privilege. Let them celebrate how, where, or in whatever manner they choose!

  5. I love all the expressions of Christmas. The season does bring out the best in us, and we need more of that!



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