During this season, we are featuring holiday memories from some of our staff women and pastor’s wives, along with their favorite recipes. Enjoy!

Growing up, I promised myself that I would always be excited about Christmas and never be grumpy about it, like some adults I knew (Inner vows never work out!). Now, I find myself being Scrooge-ish, wishing Christmas only came every other year so I’d have time to miss it. While I’ll probably never miss the gift and budget dilemmas, I do treasure the little things we do as a family to make the season meaningful—our family traditions.

Christmas traditions are the stuff of which life-long memories are made. And they are what help center me on what matters most during the hub-bub: Jesus and my family.

Every year, I surprise the kids with a new ornament just for them on the day we decorate the tree together. If possible, I try to coordinate the ornament with something that was going on in their lives that year, such as Garrett shooting his first deer, or the girls starting ballet. Sometimes it can feel like a chore to figure out what the right ornament should be, but it makes the kids feel special and they still get excited each year. Heaven only knows what will happen to these ornaments. One year I told the kids they could have their ornaments when they were adults, and Sonny said, “No way. We’re keeping them” (He’s the sentimental one, if you can’t tell).

Another yearly tradition is to take one night to drive around and look at lights and, of course, to drink hot chocolate.

But my favorite, most meaningful tradition starts about two weeks before Christmas. (We have to start this early because so many things can interrupt the evenings). Every year I pick out a new book or movie to add to our collection of Christmas stories. And every possible night we set aside time to read or watch one or two of them with cookies and milk or hot chocolate. In my perfect world, the cookies would all be homemade, but that’s just not realistic these days. The kids are happy with store-bought, as long as they each get to help make our annual batch of sugar cookies. I wouldn’t trade anything for these times together.

My oldest is 12 and growing out of the precious picture books we’ve treasured over the years. It happened so fast! This year we will probably do less of them and read Man of the Family by Ralph Moody, just to enjoy story time together.

I have included pictures of some of our favorite stories for the younger years, in case you’d like to add one to your traditions, as well as our sugar cookie recipe.

Wishing you a joyful and meaningful Christmas,

Erin Smart



Erin Smart is wife to Sonny, the campus pastor for HCF Lubbock. Erin has a heart for each person in our church to know they are noticed and valued, and for them to be equipped to live a victorious life in Christ.