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“People don’t believe what you tell them.

They rarely believe what you show them.

They often believe what their friends tell them.

They always believe what they tell themselves.

What leaders do: they give people stories they can tell themselves.

Stories about the future and about change.”

At first these words from Seth Godin in his book Tribes might not seem very relevant to parenting, or families, or Christmas. But we all know that the stories we hear from our parents influence the course of our life, especially since we often continue to retell them to ourselves and even sometimes to our own children. They influence how we think about what it means to be human, and how the world works.

We often live our lives responding to the stories that define our family tree, either following their example or deliberately distancing ourselves from them.

Holidays are a great time for stories. Christians celebrate the story of how God became a person and visited this planet. Stories like this don’t need a lot of moralizing or interpretation. When simply told in a straightforward way they have incredible power to change our ideas about who we are, and cause us to become something better.

Hopefully there is time in your holiday schedule to share stories about past Christmases, about your family, and about what you believe. Stories can provide courage and hope as we look to the new year. Someday when we’re gone, our stories will still be there. If we have told them well and often, our children will still be able to repeat them to themselves and their children.