I was raised in a relatively small family. We celebrated Christmas and had certain traditions. But it was when I married my wife and I married into this really large family that I grew to appreciate Christmas in a much deeper way.
The most cherished tradition in our family is the way that we honor each other. We’ll exchange names and we’ll buy a gift for the person whose name we drew. And when we exchange the gift, we take time, 2 or 3 minutes, to say to the other person that we’re giving the gift to, what it is about them that we love, what’s special, and honor them for who they are.
Everybody has something that they deserve to be honored for, and everybody needs to be told that they’re loved.
Not only does it give you an opportunity to express your love for that person—to tell them why you love them and what’s so special about them—but it slows down Christmas morning and makes it much more about our relationship with Jesus and our relationship with each other.
If something were to happen to me or to Patty, I never have to worry about whether or not my kids knew that I loved them. And they never have to worry about whether I wondered whether they loved me, because we take the time to spend a few minutes and honor the person we’re giving a gift to. That gift-giving can be so much more than it oftentimes is if you focus on the person instead of the gift.
And as parents, I think we want to foster great relationships between our kids. And what a great way to do it is to expect them, at certain times during the year, particularly at Christmas, the season of giving, to get outside of themselves and give themselves to somebody else. And tell them how much you love them. It’s just a beautiful thing to watch.
The feedback I’ve gotten from some of our friends and other people we know who have picked up this tradition is just so beautiful. They’ll tell me, “You just can’t imagine the things that we now say to each other that we never did before, because we never took the time to do it.”
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the material aspect of the season. And so it’s kind of like the antidote to focus on the relationships in your life, the things that really matter, and the most important need that we all have, which is to love and to be loved.