What fun to open stockings at Christmas! There is something about putting your hand inside and wondering what you will touch. Enchantment and wonder seem to go along with Christmas. What makes Christmas so special? Often, what warms our hearts are the memories of Christmas traditions.
“At Christmas, we always….”
Mary remembers a favorite Christmas before her grandmother died. The whole family gathered together and enjoyed warmth and laughter. Her cousin sent a huge smoked salmon from Washington state. Mary’s Dad went out and bought all kinds of fresh seafood and they feasted on crabs, scallops, shrimp, and crab cakes. To remember this special Christmas, Mary enjoys bagels and smoked salmon for breakfast every Christmas morning. As she bites into the smoky fishy treat, she remembers her grandmother with joy and that pleasant Christmas Day so long ago. It was the last Christmas they were all together. Now, everyone has their own families and getting together at Christmas just doesn’t seem to happen.
Baking Christmas Cookies
Barbara remembers baking cookies with her mother. There were certain traditional cookies they baked year after year: oatmeal lace, almond crescents, toffee bars, snickerdoodles, and cut-out gingerbread cookies. The cut-out cookies were her favorite. When they were finished, mother and daughter were covered with flour, even on their eyelashes. It would take hours to clean up the kitchen together afterward. Barbara made these same cookies with her son, Billy; now, she makes them with her grandchildren.
Shirley remembers new pajamas, opening them on Christmas Eve and wearing them to bed. She found out later that her mother had an ulterior motive. She wanted the children in clean, fresh pajamas for all those Christmas morning picture. Now, that Shirley is a mom, she does the same for her children. Two generations of lovely Christmas morning pictures. If only they would brush their hair.
Michael grew up in a one-generation-away-from-Italy Italian family. Holidays were all about eating…eating pasta. There was the traditional turkey at Thanksgiving and Ham at Christmas with the addition of lasagna, manicotti, antipasto salad, and spaghetti. Midnight Mass at Christmas Eve in the beautiful cathedral with the pipe organ, robed choir, stained glass windows, and candles. Midnight Mass was followed by opening presents and more food!
For Henri, it was Mexican food. Yes, Henry is French, but the whole family fell in love with eating tacos and fajitas on Christmas Eve. Then Marie got the idea of having a piñata for the children after dinner. And, of course, the red and green Mexican flag seem designed just for Christmas, so they made little Mexican flag ornaments. This, of course, turned into a tradition of making Mexican ornaments for the tree.
The Way Traditions Start
Isn’t it funny how things turn into traditions? More than good clean fun, traditions give us a connection to one another that gives us a sense of identity. “This is our family and this is what we do…” Traditions also reflect what we admire, value, and love. That’s why most traditions revolve around family and religion. For those of us who love Jesus, traditions reflect our Christian values. That’s why we give to the needy at Christmas, buys presents for poor children, or invite the lonely to join us for our holiday celebrations. Some families have traditions that put the focus squarely on Jesus.
Birthday Party for Jesus
Kate has a festive birthday party every December to celebrate Christmas. She invites all the children she knows. They play pin-the-tail on Mary’s donkey, dress up in costumes to act out the Christmas story, and sing “Happy Birthday” to the Lord. The children bring presents for a baby. Kate collects these presents and takes them to a local Crisis Pregnancy Center where they go to babies rescued from abortion. “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'” (Matthew 25:40)
Sarah goes to an orphanage or homeless shelter each December to find out if there are any children who will be in there over Christmas Eve/Christmas Day. She buys presents for all of them, leaving her name anonymous. It is her way of blessing the Lord. “He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and He will reward him for what he has done.” (Proverbs 19:17)
Christmas Caroling at Nursing Home
Blanche takes her small group Bible study to a nearby assisted living center to sing Christmas carols. They go door to door, singing the old familiar carols that bring back such warm happy memories to these elderly inhabitants. The men and women open their doors and listen with smiles on their faces and tears in their eyes. “Please sing one more,” they plead. What a wonderful night of ministry for Blanche’s group. “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” (Proverbs 11:25)
We go on a Traveling Dinner with our family to the beach or a nearby park on Christmas Eve (see earlier article!) to remind ourselves of the trip Mary and Joseph took to Bethlehem so that the prophecies might be fulfilled. Our dear Savior was born in Bethlehem, as the prophets foretold! “Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife.” (Luke 2:4-5)
Traditions in Your Home
How about you? Are there cherished traditions that you have always done? Are there new traditions that are near and dear to your heart? Why not share them as a comment after the article so that we can all enjoy and learn! Maybe someone else’s tradition may be just the thing you are looking for to deepen the wonder and meaning of the glorious celebration of the Birthday of a KING!
As you dust off your cherished traditions once again this year, enjoy them afresh. Remind yourself of why you do them in the first place….because God so loved…
Love at Christmas!