Over the next couple of weeks I'll have a couple of friends share some of their family holiday traditions with you. I hope you enjoy and I would love to hear some of your traditions as well!


In 1843, a man named Sir Henry Cole sent the first Christmas card. It was shortly after the establishment of the U.S. Postal Service. Excited about the opportunity for commoners to send mail, he designed and sent a Christmas card to encourage ordinary people to jump in and join in on the fun. Somewhere along the line, this concept snowballed into sending out family updates and idyllic family photos. And my mother ate this up.

Shopping for the perfect suit and tie for my brothers and loading me with lace befitted us quite well. Phony smiles and bad attitudes ran rampant. We grimaced our way through this tradition (well, at least I did. Thx Dad for the bowl cut).

I just assumed that someday, when I had a family, this Christmas tradition would continue. I dreamed of expertly airbrushed photos making us appear like flawless perfection. However, at the time our firstborn came around, we could barely afford ramen noodles, let alone a professional photo shoot. So we decided to take matters into our own hands.

We headed out to a nearby beach and then reality set in. This family is one puzzle piece away from perfection.

We quickly realized we were not cut out to live life perfectly. We barely could get out of the house with brushed teeth and matching socks. So a bit of spit up didn’t slow us down one bit.

The holiday season brings plenty of stress. It’s hard enough to keep up with the Joneses for the remaining 364 days of the year.

So why not savor the unexpected?

Breaking the mold was not easy. In fact, for years, I sent my mom and dad the stereotypical Christmas card with the kids posed superbly in front of our Christmas tree. But it was too late for everyone else because we had found our niche. We discovered it’s actually fun to dress-up, relax and bring laughter to a refrigerator near you.

Mother-in-law leaves something behind…put it to good use.

No teeth, no problem. All we want for Christmas is a new dental plan…

Do your own thing!

Seriously, I do love traditions. But when they begin interfering with your sanity, maybe they have gone too far. I had to let go of some preconceived conceptions of what makes a family thrive. It’s totally okay to go against the norm. It’s all right to cut yourself some slack. Seventeen years ago upon experiencing our first debacle, we never envisioned the family Christmas card would become one of our family’s treasured traditions.

Involve Everyone in the fun!

Let’s go back to the basics: Christmas time is meant to experience relationship. One relationship in particular…the arrival of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. If traditions of shopping for presents, sending out greetings, putting up lights, visiting the in-laws, making Aunt Molly’s pie and running yourself ragged is all you can remember about the holidays…let me encourage you to keep it simple this year.  Keep in mind that baby Jesus did not arrive with pomp and circumstance. He arrived in a manger, surrounded by animals, smelling like hay. He unexpectedly was born lowly, without much adieu. The focus was not on the surroundings, but rather solely on Him.

What would Jesus say about Christmas today?

With all the Christmas cray cray, it is easy to forget: He is the ONLY reason for season. Have we blown things up? Maybe it’s time to take a step back. Ask a few questions. Do some soul-searching from within.

  • Why am I doing this?
  • Do I have time?
  • Is it really necessary? (Seriously, really?)
  • Does it encourage relationship?
  • Is Jesus the focus?

Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man [Jesus] came to seek and to save the lost.”

Truly, Jesus is the reason for THIS season. THIS year. THIS moment. I believe Jesus is pro-relationship for THIS day of age as well. In whatever way fits your family, break out this year and celebrate community with Him and each other while considering leaving some laborious traditions behind.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas!


Sue Allen desires to show other women that with God, ordinary women can be extraordinary. She loves Jesus and believes we can enter into a tangible, real and rewarding relationship with Him. She published her first women's Bible study titled “I Didn't Want to be That Girl!” in December 2013. This study takes an in-depth look at the life of Eve.

Her husband, Coby, is a pediatric emergency room and infectious disease physician. They have 3 bio kids: Avery (17), Addie (15) and Kade (10). They are also in the process of adopting a little boy from Haiti and in August 2013, we opened a medical clinic in the rural village of Neply, Haiti.

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