Christmas Traditions ~ Are they Worth Keeeping?

   It can’t be contested that Christmas is fun with kids and that we find traditions exciting with their participation. But early on in my marriage and parenthood a neighbor said to me that Christmas wouldn”t be Christmas without the kids. I was  a little shocked as I had always grown to understand that Christmas was about Jesus, not the kids. Yes, we did have fun with presents, lights and trees, but that was sort of the fluff of the season. My mom got sick of ‘the mess’ rather quickly and it certainly hadn’t started the day after Thanksgiving!

    One year we visited some friends at the beginning of December and picked up this fun idea from them. Or what we made of it. We listed 24 things Christmas-y things we wanted to do and then each year I would give each activity a date as it fit into our calendar. It made a family activity out of Christmas and not just a ‘mom’ activity. And, yes, they got to come up with ideas as well, the most famous being eating junk cereal on Christmas Eve! I did my best not to feed my kids that stuff and when it got close to C-eve I couldn’t buy it. I’d send them down the aisle to pick it out!  We ate supper by candlelight and sang a Christmas song. Anyway… the list goes on, some hardly any work at all and some taking a little more  time. I always loved that list. Like I said, it made it more of a family thing than just a mom thing. I still like that list but don’t think I need it. Joel and I are more spontaneous about it. After all, there aren’t 6 or 7 people to herd!

     When I married, I married a poinsettia grower. It was fascinating as we lived next to the greenhouses and I could see the poinsettias develop from August through December. But it excluded making it to my family for Christmas most years. Once we moved to Iowa and could go, my mother who had gotten sick of the mess while I was still a teenager could hardly be bothered. She did make some gifts and cooked dinner. But I was disappointed. I wanted more fluff. I vowed I would never get so old I didn’t want the season to have its magic, its mystery. Hopefully I haven’t. I may be a little slower to get it all out, but I have my list. I have my mantle! It’s a little slower this year because of aforesaid clutter, but it will happen and we will have fun doing it.

    But another matter has come up. People keep saying to me that it is so sad to lose a loved one around the holidays. In 2007 my dad died the day after thanksgiving. This year my MIL’s memorial service was the day after Thanksgiving. So excuse me if I sound a little crass, but I don’t find it sad at all. There are lots of fine memories and a lot of people in the world don’t get that. So I am thankful for these parents in a large way, and death doesn’t have a holiday calendar. I also mentioned to Joel that it might be that the idea of going home for the holidays has been looooong gone for us before they died, so I am not immediately affected by their absence at holiday time. Several years ago a former pastor and his wife lost a dear grandson to a car accident. Their hearts were broken and they wondered how in the world they were going to celebrate Christmas without him. Then one of them said, “Wait a minute! It’s because of Christmas we have hope that we will see him again!” And it changed their outlook. I can admit that there is some sadness that weighs us down and maybe we can’t do parties, but you  can listen to The Messiah. You can have hope. You can light a candle and meditate on The Light of the World. Tradition doesn’t have to be what it was when the kids were little to be celebratory. You can make new ones. A couple years ago Joel and I hosted a really nice dinner for co-workers immediately responsible for seeing that what he wants done, gets  done. They had such a good time they all thought they could do it and we have been eating very nice meals at each others’ houses ever since. I always manage to get included!

So… old age, earthly grief… be gone! In with hope and the Divinum Mysterium!


 Thou Who Wast Rich beyond All splendor

All for Love’s sake, becamest poor.

Thrones for a manger didst surrender

Sapphire paved courts for stable floor.

Thou Who Wast Rich beyond All splendor

All for Love’s sake, becamest poor.

 Yhou who art God beyond all telling

Savior and King, we worship Thee.

Immanuel within us dwelling (!)

Make us what Thou wouldst have us be.

Thou who art God beyond all telling

Savior and King, we worship Thee!





One thought on “Christmas Traditions ~ Are they Worth Keeeping?

  1. Good thoughts Melinda! This Christmas is bittersweet for many, but I thank God for the blessing of being able to love. And I’m getting closer to “feeling” like Christmas although ‘feelings’ don’t really count for much. The truth of the matter is that Christmas is all about LOVE!!! God’s love for us, Christ’s love for us AND the Father, and our love for one another. Thank you for being a friend and family. Love you both.

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