Easing Along

Family Christmas Traditions

Jesus is born

“And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God”. 1 Luke: 35

When our two boys were very small we had a handmade wall hanging on which was sewn a Christmas tree.  The Christmas tree had 24 pockets and each pocket contained a symbol of the Christmas season such as a star or a reindeer that could be pulled from a pocket and pinned to the tree. Every year on the first day of December the tree was brought from storage and our boys fought over who would get to pull the first surprise from that day’s pocket. They alternated every day thereafter, and neither boy would dare miss a turn on his day as the designated “puller”.  It was a delight to witness the fun.  

Christmas Tree with pockets

Some of the most cherished aspects of the Christmas season are the traditions which seem to begin as simple events, repeated a second time, then enhanced and repeated once more.  In a relatively short number of years, an event that was created to entertain or amuse or simply pass some time until gifts were exchanged becomes a treasured tradition.

One year someone in my wife’s family gave everyone a well intentioned gift of some packaged baked biscuits that were so hard they were inedible. Most of the family members politely thanked the giver and then quietly sent the gift out with the spent wrapping paper. Unnoticed was one member of the family who saved his package of biscuits. The next year he re-wrapped them and placed them under the tree at the family gathering, waiting to be opened by an in-law who was clueless. Needless to say, we howled with laughter when the gift was opened and a new tradition was thus born. For many years thereafter some unsuspecting family member received that same package of rock hard biscuits as it was gifted from one person to another. This tradition ended when the biscuits were sent to my son who was serving with the Army in Kosovo. Legend has it that they were gifted to a very grateful goat.

The one tradition that I remember most fondly however, was maintained by my mother-in-law, a devoted Christian and probably one of the most joyful people I have ever known. Every year as the family gathered to celebrate Christmas, “Grandmother La-La” would assemble all of the grandchildren and, before a piece of candy was eaten, or a stocking was emptied, or even a pigtail was pulled, she would have them sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus as she held their tiny hands and joyfully smiled at her flock as only a proud grandmother can. She would then thoughtfully and thoroughly explain to the little ones (and remind the rest of us) that the birth of Jesus, the Son of God, was the real reason for the season.

Children caroling

Over the years new traditions sprang up in our family and a few were outgrown, but I always felt that a birthday song for our new-born Savior was one of the most sincere and loving ways to teach our children the true meaning of Christmas. Now that we are scattered far and wide at this time of the year it is difficult to repeat this tradition, but it is one that I’m certain they still remember.

Happy Birthday Jesus…Traditions come and go, but may we remind ourselves daily that you are a gift from God to all us.

May the blessings of the season be upon each of you. We’re Easin’ Along for now.

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