It’s Christmas! Well, it’s not December 25th…but for all practical purposes – it’s Christmas.
Christmas is Jesus’ birthday (not exactly a news flash): What a great excuse to celebrate – celebrate Him – for a whole month!
Let the fun begin!
For many of us, we would spell Christmas fun: t-r-a-d-i-t-i-o-n. Tradition! While there might be certain Christmases that stand out as exceptional, much of what we treasure about the season are the traditions we looked forward to each year.
In a world of change, there is comfort in the familiar rituals that are unique to our families, especially during the holidays. When we marry, we blend family traditions and perhaps create new ones of our own.
In my family, the holiday season began with a thorough housecleaning from top to bottom. Fortunately, my mom had four daughters to lend a hand. NOTE: Cleaning was NOT what we considered the fun part of Christmas, but the rest of the preparations would not begin until this task was completed.
Dad’s job was to cut down a tree, set it up and string the lights. Mom decorated the top tier with fragile, antique ornaments. We girls finished off the bottom of the tree with the remaining decorations. The final touch was to hang candy canes to share with the friends and cousins who would be stopping by.
With so much company expected, cookie making was next on the agenda. For days, the kitchen was a flurry of flour and sparkly sugar sprinkles as we baked dozens of mom’s best recipes. Tins of cookies were stored in our unheated back porch, awaiting the arrival of visitors.
When we started our own family, my husband and I were committed to celebrating a Christ-centered Christmas. The Nativity was set up early in December as a reminder of the reason for the season. One year we found a fun resource for family Advent devotions that included activities, i.e. homemade tambourines – two paper plates stapled together, decorated and filled with dried lentils, to accompany Christmas carol singing.
I recently asked my adult daughters what were their favorite Christmas tradition memories. Here is what they recalled:
- Advent calendars that were opened at bedtime.
- Paper chains that helped mark the countdown to Christmas.
- The music of Christmas: Pavarotti’s “O Holy Night” and Evie Tournquist’s “Come On, Ring Those Bells.”
- Luminarias that lined the driveway and were lit at dusk on Christmas Eve.
- The Christmas Eve Candlelight Service, which was followed by a tour of the neighborhood to view the lights.
- French-Canadian Pork Pie on Christmas Eve and Piistyaa (a Finnish soup made of a hearty meat stock) on Christmas Day.
- Opening one present on Christmas Eve.
Our traditions have changed some as my daughter Aimee is married, with children of her own. Since she and her husband Andy are on staff at Cedar Creek Church in Perrysburg, OH, Christmas is their busiest time of the year. My daughter Molly and I travel from Minneapolis and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to be with them. In addition to the old favorites we still enjoy, some of our new traditions include:
- Christmas Eve at Cedar Creek!
- Playing “Find the Ornament on the Tree” with grand daughters, Grace and Emma.
- A Polish feast of kielbasa, cabbage rolls and pierogi from Zavotski’s Deli.
- Watching our favorite holiday movies, i.e. “A Christmas Story,” “Elf” and “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”
As you celebrate Christmas in the weeks ahead, be sure to make memories by including traditions, old and new.
It’s Christmas – Jesus’ birthday!
Let the fun begin!
Kathy Ptaszek (pronounced tay-zack) loves people and is known for her warmth and the ability to connect with audiences of all ages. She has spoken to thousands of women at retreats, as well as community and church events throughout Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Colorado for over 40 years.
Change and loss have been a part of Kathy’s journey. Her husband Jon died in 1991, leaving her to single-parent their daughters, Aimee and Molly, who were ages 11 and 13 at the time. Through it all, she is convinced of the goodness and sovereignty of God. Kathy has a wonderful blog full of encouragement over at Holy Ground All Around.
CedarCreek MOMentum exists to connect mothers in all seasons by encouraging and supporting them, while guiding their hearts toward Christ.
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