Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Traditions

Dec 9

What are your favorite Christmas traditions? Maybe watching classics like Charlie Brown’s Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life and White Christmas? Anybody go caroling in the neighborhood or the retirement community or hospital wards? One year a group of us was allowed to sing carols in ICU at the local hospital. I kept thinking, oh please don’t let this cause a code blue on my watch! But the staff and the patients were misty eyed over that one! They LOVED it.

Then there were the Christmas cookies with the kids. We’d roll, cut and bake and then sort by shapes. Stars here, bells there, angels in this tin, please! Next we’d mix the icing, add colors and get out the brushes. We had 76 cooky cutters, much to the delight of those on the receiving end of this tradition! My friend Marcy saved some, like the beautiful male Mallard Duck. She couldn’t eat it. It looked so real!

One of my favorites was a church with a steeple. Maybe you have that one, too. The year Jennifer invited her BF, Phil, to come over from Washington U and join us, he not only pitched in, he painted stained glass windows on the church cookies! I think that enthusiasm carried the relationship to a new level! Then he had fun inventing shapes, like a toothbrush and a Grinch, still part of our traditions, BTW! Jennifer and Phil eventually married and now lots of folks in NJ benefit from the way they and their children shape Christmas with cookies, delivered in baskets, often accompanied by caroling! Perhaps you make your own Christmas cards or toffee? What about the traditional advent calendar to help count the days? There’s the Advent midweek service at church and choir rehearsals and the children’s Christmas program! And aaah… for sacred and classical music on “Holiday Wrappings!”

There’s something very grounding and peaceful about traditions, whether they’ve been passed down through generations or you start them yourself. It’s NEVER too late to start a tradition!

AND THEN there are the RULES! One rule in most families -- no one peeks in the gift closet before Christmas!

The Christmas Brooks was four, he forgot our family “rule” about eating breakfast BEFORE going into the family room to open the gifts around the tree. I heard the pitter patter of feet in the wrong hallway outside the kitchen door, just in time to hear his hushed little voice giving his peek away. "I remember what I wanted for Christmas. An edow (yellow) tractor!" I called ‘round the other way for breakfast and then, Of Course, he had to fake surprise when he saw the yellow tractor next to the tree as we walked in together!

How many of us want to hear this Christmas, "It's JUST what I wanted!" Whether you're scurrying from one mall, cataloge or website to the next, or creating your own gifts this season, you want the PERFECT gift for each person. 540 Most people on your list are WAITing in anticipation, having been notified that Christmas is just 16 days away. Some, expecting nothing, will be surprised!

In anticipation of the birth of His Son, God notified people for centuries that the Messiah was coming. No date, so they couldn’t count the days, but the faithful tried and longed for it to happen. Three hundred times the Bible predicted and promised the Birthday of the Savior of mankind. And still when it happened, only a few believed. Some were surprised, like the shepherds in the field that night. Then there was faithful old Simeon, impressed somehow by God that he would not die until he actually saw the Christ Child. Luke tells us in Chapter 2 that Simeon was moved by the Spirit to go into the temple courts one day. When Mary and Joseph brought in Baby Jesus, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying he could now die in peace because he’d seen with his own eyes God’s salvation to be revealed in this Child. “Lord lettest now Thy servant depart in peace!”
The familiar refrain from

We have the advantage of the Bible to read the documentation of all that followed to enhance our Christmas celebration. Whatever your traditions, whatever your rules, receive the Perfect Gift, the free gift, from the Great Giver, God Himself delivered through faith in His Son! That gift is just your size, shape and color to face any situation and to open every day the rest of your life!
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
With that in place, you’ll have a Merry Christmas!

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