Thursday, November 29, 2007
One of my favorite places to visit is My Quiet Corner. It is a place of quiet reflection and inspiration. Today she is giving us the opportunity to share our Christmas traditions.
Our children are grown and gone – the nest is empty. Some of the traditions remain as we have welcomed precious grandchildren into our family and some have changed. When our children were little and we lived up north, one of our traditions was to go with a few other families from our little church and cut down our Christmas trees. We would drive out to the tree farm with the kids so bundled up in snowsuits, hats, mittens and boots they could scarcely walk and begin the search for the perfect Christmas tree. Usually there was snow on the ground and the kids had a great time playing in the snow while the Dads cut down the trees. Then we would load them up and head to someone’s house for hot chocolate and cookies.
Another tradition that centered on our little church was to load up the old school bus we used to transport those without vehicles to church on Sunday and go to the Nursing Home to sing Christmas Carols. I believe we each received much more of a blessing than we gave. The sweet looks on the faces of those precious people would have to have warmed even the coldest heart. After we made several more stops it was back to our friends’ home for hot chocolate and Christmas goodies (we knew how to have a good time!).
Our kids have such wonderful memories of those times. We still talk about them when we gather together for Christmas.
There are several traditions that have continued. My daughter and I always bake sugar cookies (in addition to the traditional ones I bake every Christmas – Cookie Bars, Pecan Tarts, Thumbprints, Russian Tea Cakes, Sour dough Cookies). The recipe makes dozens of cookies so the deal is I bake the cookies and she does the decorating. In recent years we have added the grandchildren to the cookie decorating detail. They ice and sprinkle to their hearts content.
I started baking a birthday cake for Jesus when the kids were young and that is another tradition that continues. One year I mentioned that I might not bake the usual birthday cake and my son looked so stricken I quickly reassured him that on second thought I would bake it. We have it after the traditional lasagna dinner (everyone being tired of turkey by then). I like it because I can prepare the lasagna in advance and all I have to do is heat it up on Christmas day.
We have always attended Christmas Eve service – sometimes a candle light service, other times singing in the choir. It is a drawing closer to the Lord – a remembering the miraculous gift He wrapped in the form of a tiny baby over two thousand years ago. It is the underpinning of what makes our traditions special – this knowing why we celebrate. How empty it would be if all it was was the exchanging of gifts. How rich and full it is knowing that we have The Gift within our hearts.