Isaac and Angie Tolpin of Courageous Parenting are parents to 8 incredible children (and 1 on the way!) and have built a successful online ministry with their impactful Podcast and Parenting Mentor Program. This beautiful family recently relocated to Idaho, and Angie Tolpin shares with our readers about their Holiday Family Traditions. Enjoy!
Holiday traditions mean something different to everyone. For some, they are the dreaded activities that have become a burden that tempts one to be distracted from what really matters. For others, they are the nostalgic memory-making moments that tie the meaning of the season together with the bonds of family. Traditions can become memories of remembrance that get passed down from one generation to another leaving stronger legacy bonds or they can be obligatory activities that drain the joy out of others. The difference is often in the perspective but it’s also a reflection of leadership and flexibility.
As a mother of many and a firstborn myself, I’m prone to be drawn towards traditions, but I’ve realized that what is most important is not the traditions but what the traditions cultivate. Over the years, I’ve learned to be flexible with the traditions we keep. When the kids were younger they looked different than now. But it’s really special to have some, the few special ones, that everyone in the family excitedly anticipates. For our family, it’s baking delicious desserts, gathering around the table for family game nights, nuzzling close by a warm wood-burning fire with a sugar cookie and hot cocoa after a day of sledding, it’s making Norwegian Lefse while waiting for the Christmas dinner to be ready, it’s cuddling while watching “White Christmas”, and listening to Dad read about the account of Christ’s birth from the gospels and going through an advent study together. Honestly, we’ve had so many fun “traditions” over the last 21 years, some that continued for a decade and then morphed into something different, others we attempted a few times and they just didn’t stick. Since recently moving to Idaho we attempted a new potential tradition this year, of stomping through the woods on a hunt for our Christmas tree. What a beautiful drive and fun experience for the kids. Definitely a memory they won’t soon forget. Another unexpected surprise is seeing how festive most of the local businesses decorate. They truly invest in “lighting up the town” and I LOVE it!
One family tradition that is characteristic of our family, regardless of a holiday is family meetings. They have become such a part of our family culture that we painfully miss them when we don’t regularly meet. The fun aspect of family meetings is being able to adjust the focus based upon the season. We generally have a daily meeting as a family where we read the Bible together, discuss it, and pray together. Around the New Year, we tend to have a long meeting where we choose family initiatives and share personal reflections, goals hit and missed, Visioneer together, and establish new goals and share our dreams. The beautiful part about family traditions is less about tradition and more about family relationships and memories.
Remember, that it’s not the number of traditions or the splendor of them, but the memories that bring joy and what the traditions cultivate that matters.