Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Christmas Tradition

There were many traditions in my family associated with the Christmas season. It was generally the Tuesday night before Thanksgiving when the Christmas Tree was put up with much fanfare. For the next three weeks my mother would toil away in the kitchen baking and cooking some of the richest, most delightful Christmas goodies you can imagine. Rum Balls, Toffee, Fudge, Caramels, Mr. Bork Cookies, Short-Bread, Russian Tea Cakes, Almond Bars, Sugar Cookies, Chocolate covered Peanut-Butter Balls, and of course, the dreaded Fruit Cake. (Truly a world-class fruitcake for those who like fruitcake) On Christmas Eve we had a special meal of soups, including an Italian soup made with turkey stuffed dumplings, with a choice of homemade cinnamon or pecan rolls. When the meal was finished, we helped clean up the dishes and then the moment we (the Kids) had been patiently waiting for all day arrived. It was time to open our presents.

There was yet one Christmas Tradition that would have to be accomplished before we moved on to present opening. As young children, we all were dressed in pajamas. One year, mom and dad even wore matching pajamas—what a sight we were! We all sat together on the couch; then dad carefully explained that as excited as we were about opening our gifts, the true meaning of Christmas was about the birth of Jesus Christ. We then as a family recited the story of Christ’s birth from Luke, Chapter two.

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. 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, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, "Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us." And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Luke 2:1-16 (NKJV)

By the time we had finished reciting the marvelous story of Jesus’ unique birth, my mind was no longer preoccupied with the gifts that were waiting under the tree. I felt, what can only be described, as a closeness to God. The God that loved me enough to send Jesus to rescue my life from the folly and futility of sin. The activities of the night were now tempered by an awareness of “The Holy Night” when Jesus arrived on planet earth. As you establish Christmas Traditions with your children and grandchildren; make goodies, sing the carols of the season, be generous in the giving of gifts, string up lights inside and outside the house, make Christmas into a time of awe and wonder, make memories that last a lifetime!  Above all else, make sure that Jesus is at the center of it all!

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