How to establish Christmas Tradition in a Military Family


When you think of Christmas tradition, what comes to mind?

For me, Christmas tradition was…

Caroling with our church family; and cookies and cocoa to cut the cold.

Twinkling candles and whispers of Silent Night at our Christmas Eve service.

Christmas eve at my Gram’s house with the whole lot of extended family; playing games and telling secrets to cousins; buffet tables spilling over with yummy dishes, and later, grab bag gifts for everyone.

Christmas morning with a bit of snow on the ground and a fat turkey in the oven.

This was the Christmas of my childhood. The way we did Christmas every year without fail.

Our Christmas tradition had a rhythym to it. Just like that old upright piano that sat in our home  year after year, our Christmas traditions never changed, never altered.


Early on in our military marriage, I realized our Christmas’s were going to look much different from what I was use to. And I panicked.

How would I establish tradition when our families were so far away? How do we establish a tradition when our church changes every two years? And how do you establish tradition when said tradition must first fit snugly in to a carry on suitcase?

When I realized I needed to intentionally create tradition for our military family, I went in search of tradition that upheld the true meaning of Christmas.

Sure, I love the tradition of baking Christmas cookies with whatever neighbor kids we happen to live near at the time, but I was in search of a more meaningful tradition. One that reached down and grabbed hold of my children’s heart with the love of Christ.


We have developed many traditions over the years, but our most favorite family tradition is our nightly reading of the birth of Jesus with the help of this Nativity Set, What God wants for Christmas. Each night in the month of December, we light our advent candles and read the story of Jesus’ birth. Each child spills over with excitement as they wait to open their box hiding that piece of the nativity story.


This nativity set has grown with our children, been read by and to our children, has traveled to foreign lands, and withstood the test of time.As we pull out our Christmas decorations fresh from Overseas, and decorate a house we call home for only a short time, our children go in search of this tradition.

The tradition of lighting a candle and reading the miracle story of a love so wide and deep and long that can we really fathom????

And so today my family’s traditions may not look a whole lot like the traditions of my youth, but our home carries with it the traditions we intentionally set before our family, no matter where we find ourselves this year!!!

So don’t fret, my military friend!! Go in search of the true meaning of Christmas and Tradition will follow!