Pastor Debbie Altman
I do love Christmas! There is something about the season that truly does soften the world a little bit…even for those who may not believe as we do. I admit, getting the motivation to do the decorating can sometimes be hard for me, but once it’s done, it feels so warm and fuzzy and I enjoy it so much! I even have a crazy tradition…after New Year’s. I put all the decorations away, and take all the ornaments off the tree, but I leave the tree up with just the white lights through our cold Florida January! Haha! I love the warmth of the lights and the smell of the real tree and wrapping up in a blanket. Call me crazy! I believe it’s because I come from Buffalo, and so it feels a bit like home.
I have always tried to start my decorating and shopping a little earlier so that as Christmas approaches, I can more fully enjoy the fun festivities of the season…children’s Christmas plays, a choral or church musical concert, parties and gatherings with friends and family…keeping a sense of reverence and worship, rather than all out, overwhelming stress!
One of the things I’ve realized over the years, is that holiday traditions don’t have to be expensive or fancy. What my kids have seemed to appreciate, was simply doing the same things each year. There is comfort and security in simple, repeated traditions. For example, we usually have the same foods for Thanksgiving every year. Everyone in our extended family brings their same side dishes. Well, one year we went to one of Craig’s aunt’s houses in Georgia for Thanksgiving, and they put out quite a southern Georgia spread! My daughter Dara was NOT happy. She did not like that they did not have the exact same dishes that we serve! Truthfully, I was surprised, but it validated the power of the simple traditions that we were creating.
When my children were small, I found the most delightful book…it is composed of just the words to some traditional Christmas songs, and the Christmas story. But the book is pretty, and the Christmas story is illustrated so magically, that the children were drawn to it. So every year before presents were opened, we sat on the sofa and read this most beautiful Story together from this beautiful book. For all the years of their lives, through their teen and even college years, we did this simple tradition. Well, I bought copies of this book and have given it to my adult children, and they now read it together with their children. I so love this! (We are still waiting for Brent’s children, but he and Vasilisa read it together :)).
On the not so spiritual side, somewhere I heard about the Christmas pickle tradition, and it has become an anticipated part of our Christmas! You hide the, sparkly green pickle somewhere in the tree, and everyone…adults and children alike, try to find it…without destroying your tree of course! No touching any branches! Whoever finds it first gets an extra little gift. Or, whoever finds it can open the first gift. However you do it, it’s just a simple little addition of fun…and for our EXTREMELY competitive family…maybe the addition of a few injuries!
I’m sure you have your own treasured holiday customs! So, keep it going, keep it simple, and enjoy the beauty of this season. Know that whatever you do for your family in the way of tradition goes a long way to creating warmth, security and legacy.