A Tradition Handed Down

It seems that every conversation I’ve had with friends over the last couple of weeks involves the question, “So what do you all do for Christmas?”. Our conversation then fills with exchanges of family Christmas traditions, special memories, and what we believe makes this time of year so special.

I love these kinds of conversations, because I’m big on tradition. Maybe my spicy southern roots mixed with my rich Catholic roots make one tasty tradition-thirsty cocktail. Hearing about other people’s traditions give me a little extra peak into someone else’s world, the way they do things, and what makes them come alive during the season. I enjoy watching my friends’ faces light up as they explain old traditions that they are starting with their new families and recount significant memories with loved ones. I’m a believer in the power of traditions to unify families in the toughest of times and to enhance their joy in the greatest of times. I cannot imagine a home without traditions.

Ever since Dave and I have been married, and especially so since G came along, we have been deciding and planning which of our childhood traditions we want to hand on to our own kids, and which new traditions we want to introduce. This time of year is significantly heavy on tradition, and I want to share with you one small tradition from my youth that we are passing on to George, because it’s one of my very favorites.


When I was a little girl, each Christmas morning greeted me with a new piece to add to my nativity scene. My parents began this tradition for me so that, by the time I was on my own, I would have a full nativity scene (and then some). So the first year they began this tradition, I received the Holy Family figures from the Fontanini nativity set (I cannot recommend this company highly enough – it’s family-owned, the pieces are gorgeous, the colors are soft and lovely yet vivd, and they are unbreakable (at least by little hands which, in my book, is a major win)). The next year, I received the shepherds. The year after that, the magi. The year after that, the angels. And so on and so forth. Today, I have a fully-stocked nativity set that my own little family is blessed with each year.

This tradition has always been near to my heart, and D-Train and I knew we wanted to implement this with our own kids. So this year, George is being inaugurated into this tradition. Don’t tell him 😉 but he will be receiving the Holy Family this Christmas to start his own collection.

It is my prayer that, when he is older, he will come to see the heart behind this tradition and the value that it holds in our family line. It is my prayer that one day, his own little family will be blessed by his nativity that will be assembled in love and waiting.

What are some of your family traditions for this time of year? I seriously love hearing about traditions so please fill me in – and share some ideas!

P.S. If you’re looking for ways to begin your own family traditions centered around the liturgical year, be sure to check out the awesome ebooks Feasts! and More Feasts! for simple yet creative ideas 🙂


  1. LOVE this idea! I was so excited when my mom gifted me a set for my first Christmas as married woman last year. Now being able to place baby Jesus on his manger while holding my own little boy is so special! Traditions are the best!

  2. How cool! We have a full fontinini set that my MIL got us for our wedding. So beautiful! My husband’s grandma kind of does the same thing you do, except with Christmas ornaments. That way when the kids move out on their own, they have enough to decorate their own tree.

    We set up our nativity scene throughout the house. We have the magi travel closer and closer to Jesus, not arriving to the main scene until Epiphany. And Jesus doesn’t get to hang out in the manger until Christmas morning.

  3. In my parish the figures of the Magi travel from house to house during the 12 days of Christmas for a short prayer service each evening which everyone is invited to attend. It’s a really nice way to bring the community together.

Leave a Reply