Hello! And Merry Christmas Season! I’ve been noticeably absent here for a few days enjoying the Season, family, celebrations and now just a little down time. Happiness!
I begin some of my normal working routine this week, but with a much more relaxed mode since we are still on school break. This is one of my favorite weeks of the year. I hope you are enjoying yours and taking some time to slow down and relax as you prepare for your new year.
As I was walking into church yesterday I ran into a dear friend and her family. They recently moved into a new home so I asked about their first Christmas there. There was some poo poohing as they said it wasn’t entirely decorated as there were still boxes to be unpacked and all the work that comes with a giant move. They did unpack enough to have a tree decorated and Christmas china on the table. So, I said, you had a tree, and gifts under the tree, and family over and you were together . . . so you had Christmas! Christmas came without all the other decorations! Baby Jesus arrived regardless of the state of the house! We then laughed as I shared something that happened at our house on Christmas day. . .
We have several nativity sets that I display during the Holidays. I love them. One of the first things we were given when we got married was a beautiful set from The Husband’s grandmother. It is always the very first thing I put out for Christmas. In that set the Baby Jesus is not attached to the manger. In my Husband’s family, it was the tradition to hide Baby Jesus until Christmas morning when He was born. That was not my tradition growing up, so I had to learn to follow that tradition and hide Baby Jesus. I then had to remember to put Baby Jesus back in his manger on Christmas morning.
Well, when you are up late getting gifts out of hiding to put under the tree, remembering to down a little milk and eat some cookies that were placed out for Santa, gather together the hidden gifts to stuff in stockings, and assemble what needed assembled, I would invariably forget the poor little Baby Jesus in his hiding place. It wasn’t intentional. I think it just wasn’t engrained in me since it wasn’t my own tradition growing up. Usually He was remembered and placed in the manger before it was really noticed. Well, this year, on Christmas Day, someone noticed that Baby Jesus hadn’t made his appearance. He hadn’t been born and it was about four in the afternoon! Needless to say I had The Husband get little Baby Jesus and place him in his rightful place.
As I shared this little story and snafu of a tradition with my friends, they decided it was okay. We didn’t really know what time Jesus was actually born, so it was still Christmas and our little tradition was not all lost. This got me to thinking about our other traditions and how they really make our family our family. One of the things we do at our Christmas Eve dinner is to take out an old, worn, falling apart little white bible and read from Luke. As the boys grew the reading would be passed from one son to another. I loved sitting in the candlelight listening to those voices recount Luke’s story of Jesus’ birth. We have other traditions around and about Christmas including the Advent candle, Christmas Eve church service followed by lasagna, Christmas morning breakfast casserole and other things likely similar to many of yours. We also have some birthday traditions – I wake up a son on his birthday with a candle burning in a chocolate donut, ready for a wake up wish. I also always try to make a favorite meal on a birthday. On New Year’s we eat the traditional black eyed peas and greens to begin the New Year.
I must say that I love traditions. I love following certain actions to honor certain events. They bring back many memories of celebrations in similar ways and I think those traditions bring us together in those shared celebrations and memories. I think this is a very important part of growing up, establishing ways to honor certain events and the past. I think these rituals help make up the very fabric of life. These things we do connect us to those in the past, to those in the present and those who will come after. They are steadfast, predictable and help keep us grounded.
I think of the traditions we had growing up and how they now melt with those of The Husbands. My boys will have these traditions to add to their families. We have also created new traditions within our family and those are just as important as those we have learned from some of the old ways. As times do change we can keep our old traditions, but also bring new ones into the mix and have those to also carry us through.
I am an old movie fan. You can often find me watching an old black and white in place of a current movie on any day. One of my favorite old movies is Fiddler on the Roof. If you aren’t familiar with the story, it is about a Russian family who had to leave their home. It is also a musical, and in one of the songs, Tradition, a verse says, “Because of our traditions we’ve kept our balance for many, many years. Because of our traditions, every one of us knows who he is and what God expects him to do.” I think it is in the honoring of traditions that we honor our past, our families, each other and ourselves.
I think back on Sunday afternoon lunches at my grandmother’s after church, celebrating Thanksgiving with my family and close friends at a fabulous hunting cabin in the woods, making handmade Christmas treats and ornaments with my mom, eating my father’s clam chowder on Sunday nights, to my own family’s Houston’s lunch after early church, lighting the Advent candle used by The Husband’s mom, New Year’s we spent at our North Carolina cabin with fireworks, outdoor fires and roasting marshmallows, opening stockings later to savor the day, and celebrating birthdays with homemade favorite foods, to hiding the Baby Jesus until Christmas morning – or afternoon, and I so appreciate the rituals, memories and importance of these celebrations. They help us keep our balance.
What are your traditions? Do you have many passed down? Have you brought new ones into your family? Sometimes forget those that weren’t yours growing up, like I did? And, most importantly, do you love Fiddler on the Roof as much as I do?
Enjoy Your Day AND Your Week!