Article  Human Dignity  Life  Marriage and Family  Religious Liberty  Family  Holiday

How some of the ERLC staff families celebrate Christmas

Christmas is almost here! For many of us, the Christmas season is a wonderful time of reflection and spending time with family and friends. Most families also have traditions that they observe every year. Often, these traditions have been passed down from parents or grandparents over the years, and serve as a way to remember loved ones who may not be with us to celebrate. Every tradition is different – some are light-hearted and fun, while others are meaningful and designed to remind us of the biblical truths that are at the heart of the Christmas season. 

Here are some of the ways a few ERLC staff members celebrate Christmas.

Chelsea Patterson Sobolik: Policy Director

My favorite tradition is going to see a live performance of Handel's Messiah. The entire performance is Scripture, and it’s such a powerful reminder of the gospel.

Amanda Hays: Digital Strategist

Our traditions are fairly normal. We decorate a gingerbread house, use Jesse Tree ornaments to celebrate Advent, listen to Frank Sinatra & Bing Crosby Christmas music, watch claymation Rudolph and friends movies, listen to Andrew Peterson’s “Behold the Lamb of God” (or go see it), and make sausage pinwheels for Christmas morning.

Jason Thacker: Creative Director

Outside of our typical traditions, we pick out gifts for our World Vision kid or for families on Baptist Global Response like chickens, goats, and medical supplies. Our kids love picking these things out. This year, we are trying to bless the nurses caring for my wife and she gets treatment for cancer with Starbucks and other gifts.

Bobby Reed: Chief Financial Officer

Our family has two main traditions, among others. First, when we began having children we committed to be home for Christmas—our home. We might travel at New Year’s, but our kids would wake up in their own beds Christmas morning, and we would set our own traditions. 

Second, we spread our gift giving/opening throughout the day. We typically open presents in shifts and one at a time. So, we might open all of the presents from a particular aunt or grandparent who is out of town and could not be there before brunch, then another after brunch. In the early years, we would video each of those times on a VHS recorder and be able to show those recordings to the respective family members. 

This year, we may open presents from [our son] Timothy, who will be in Europe, via Skype, so that he can be a part of the experience as much as possible. Between brunch and lunch and watching Christmas movies/shows and opening presents, we usually wrap up with everything by late afternoon or so.

Brent Leatherwood: Director of Strategic Partnerships

For our family, we start the Christmas season on Thanksgiving. We try to instill thankful hearts in our three children for the coming Christmas season and put the birth of Jesus front and center as the single greatest gift we are given. We also have our children open their first Christmas gifts on Thanksgiving night—new Christmas pajamas and Christmas books to read. Finally, once the kids have gone to bed, I wrap up the evening with the older family members—especially if my parents or my wife’s parents are in town—by watching “Christmas Vacation”!

Jill Waggoner: Deputy Press Secretary

My mother’s family on her father’s side has been getting together for a Christmas party for about 65 years. I think I’ve missed one when we lived away, but she’s never missed one, and it’s very important to her. My mother is now the organizer of these Christmas parties. We make that a priority because we want to teach our children that this type of family is a treasure that a lot of people don’t have, and we want them to honor the older generations of our family and understand their commitment to them. We average about 75–100 people!

Elizabeth Bristow: Press Secretary

Now that our children are a little older, we are establishing new traditions as a family. Each night in December we read an Advent devotional before bed and talk about how it relates to the coming of Christ, our Savior. As a family, we also go caroling at assisted living homes around Waco and participate in the Operation Christmas Child boxes and World Vision sponsorship by buying a nicer gift for our girl in El Salvador. These are just a few traditions we enjoy doing together!

Daniel Darling: VP of Communications

Our family has several traditions. First, we start listening to Christmas music sometime in November and we don’t feel the least bit bad about it. Secondly, we buy a new ornament every year, either from a place we’ve visited or just something to mark out that year. Our kids just love decorating the tree, evoking memories of Christmases come and gone. We also have each of our four kids pick a name out of the hat of another kid and we take them to the store to do the stocking shopping. This allows them to think of other siblings instead of themselves. 

Of course, our very favorite tradition, one that I had as a child, is attending Christmas Eve service. This is one of my favorite worship times of the year. I love lighting candles. I love signing the old Christmas hymns and carols. I can hardly make it through Hark the Herald without weeping. 

Related Content

What is the ERLC’s Research Institute?

What is the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s Research Institute, and why is it...

Read More

Key resolutions from the 2024 SBC Annual Meeting

On June 11-12, messengers to the 2024 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Indianapolis,...

Read More
God's Kingdom

Living in Light of God’s Kingdom

Foreign Affairs Policy, Part 5 of 5

A Series on Pursuing Good: Discerning Well-Crafted Policy An election year can quickly become about...

Read More
Free church in a free state

Protecting a Free Church in a Free State

Religious Liberty Policy, Part 2 of 5

A Series on Pursuing Good: Discerning Well-Crafted Policy An election year can quickly become about...

Read More
Pastor's Role in Politics

Pastor Roundtable: What Is a Pastor’s Role in Politics?

Helping your church apply faith to the public square

The pressure during an election year is high for everyone, especially pastors. The last...

Read More

Freed from Political Tribes

Independent, Part 4 of 4

No Perfect Party Prudence & Principles for Stewarding Our Vote Political parties have become...

Read More