Wednesday’s Ode #44

I do apologize for the tardiness of this post! Those who read every week, especially, at precisely the 11:30am hour, please forgive me for the delays yesterday and today…we had a little “speed bump….”

  
I just love Christmas traditions! Yeah, I suppose you could say I’m a little “old school.” I like having family traditions you return to year after year. I enjoy watching the kiddos open one present at our house, or at the grandparents house, on Christmas Eve. I look forward to setting up the nativity scene and taking a moment to intentionally remember the true reason for the season. I love baking and decorating Christmas cookies with our boys. I love piling up in the car and searching all over town for the best light displays. Most of all, I enjoy sitting in front of the Christmas tree, with all the other lights off, sipping a cup of coffee and gazing at the lights and ornaments. Yes, these are all traditions our family enjoys every year, and I just love each and every one!   

What are some of the traditions our family enjoys during the holiday season?

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It’s a New Tradition

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To be honest, I have always been kind of against going out to eat on Christmas and Thanksgiving Day. I was always of the opinion you should be at home for those meals, carrying on the traditions of family. You see, I grew up with the traditions of home, family, and living out the legacy of that family. When I was young, we would have great big gatherings at my grandparents’ home; all of the family would be there! It was kind of like a homecoming. See, I have always been an only child, but my three cousins, and my grandmother’s three sisters and husbands, with all their children, would come; so, we would end up with a house full! No one would want to miss. Those were some great times. I never felt alone or left out, and it was, as if, we were just one great big, happy family!

As I’ve grown older, things have changed, and our family has grown distant over miles and time. I, now, live in a different state, as several others do, and there have been those, within our family, who have experienced divorce and death. These things change people; they change the dynamics of a close-knit family, and our family has somewhat drifted.

However, late in 2012, my husband and I were down for a holiday, and we decided to try to get everyone together at “the old homestead” where my grandmother still lives. We had a “dessert” get together, because many had things to do, and there were lots of children involved. So, we gathered for desserts, coffee and fellowship. It was so fun! Granted, it wasn’t the same as years gone by, and not everyone who used to come was there, but those who could, came, and old friendships were rekindled, new ones were made, and our children got to experience the togetherness from which each of us were raised. My husband and I decided, from now on, whenever we were back “home,” we’d make a point to do this again. It was a great “new tradition” that was made.

This Christmas, my husband, boys and I were with my parents and grandmother for a few days in TN, and we decided to try another “new tradition.” We went out to a restaurant for our Christmas Day meal. It was different, and it was wonderful!! You see, the last several years, we have tried to pull together a huge traditional meal at my mother’s house, and, for various reasons that I won’t go into, it has always been a struggle. We have each ended up frustrated and ill at one another, and it has never really seemed to have work out as each of us had hoped it would. Last year, my grandmother said, “I’m not doing this (the meal) again!” So, this Christmas, I remembered that statement, and we worked to change the norm. We found a really nice, upscale restaurant in town that would be open on Christmas Day. We were seated by the beautiful stone fireplace, and we could see the city streets as shoppers passed by on their merry way. We had steaks, baked potatoes, prime rib and shrimp. Everything was wonderful! The fellowship with one another was the best it’s been in years, and we didn’t have to clean up afterwards, either! …That was simply awesome! 😉

Later, when we got back to the house to enjoy homemade desserts and open presents together, my eighty-five year old grandmother called us all together for an “executive meeting.” We were each nervous at first, because she doesn’t normally do that, and we thought we might be in trouble! (Haha!) She said, “I want us all to decide, right now, that from now on, when we come together for a holiday, we go out to eat! …even after I’m gone, you do this!!” We all laughed, mostly from the relief of not being in trouble, and we all said, “I second…yes, Ma’am!” The rest of the day was simply wonderful as we spent time sharing together and watching as the children tore into their gifts. It was a great Christmas Day!

I wrote this to share with you how traditions can be made in all kinds of ways. Your family is going to be different than mine, and our traditions may be totally opposites, but as long as they work for you and your family, that is what really matters. As long as your traditions bring your families together and draws out the love and comraderie among you, that’s what’s important!

So, make a new tradition this year or simply keep an old one! Just be together at those important times, and make those memories that will last for all times. We are never guaranteed tomorrow. We don’t know who will be at the next family celebration, and who might have said goodbye by then; so, make the moments count. Cherish one another, and if an old tradition just doesn’t seem to work now for the family as a whole, think about trying a new one. Keeping traditions, only for the sake of the tradition, especially, when it is only tearing your family apart, is not really worth it. Traditions are made to make people stronger, to take relationships deeper and to bring wisdom, character and love into the family. When a tradition only brings strife, chaos and division, it’s either time for some heart changes, or its time for a new tradition! I’m so glad we made ours! 🙂

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It’s Tradition

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Christmas is my most favorite holiday of the year. There are so many reasons for my loving it. I love the warmth and love I feel while surrounded by family. I love the heightened feelings of joy, generosity and kindness that seems to resonate in most everyone’s heart. I love the wonder of a child who is anxiously awaiting Christmas morn. They can hardly go to sleep on Christmas Eve, as they strain to hear sleigh bells and reindeer hoofs upon the roof, and they run to the living room early the next morning to see if, just maybe, a midnight visitor has nibbled on their gift of milk and cookies. I love to see the twinkle in my sons’ eyes when they receive that special gift from their list which they weren’t quite sure if we’d be able to fulfill.

I love looking forward to the snow that might fall, and I love to wrap up in layers of cozy attire and walk around in the winter wonderland. I love to sit by the warm fire, drinking hot cocoa, while cuddled up with my sweet boys and my love, watching a Christmas special on TV, even though, we’ve seen it every year for the last 10! I love playing endless Christmas carols on the radio and singing till my voice almost disappears. I love making little goodie bags for the boys’ classes at school or for those in our neighborhood that includes a special little note of God’s love and hope for this broken world. I love picking out an “angel” ornament off the tree in our church foyer and supplying Christmas for a child whom, otherwise, might not have gotten anything underneath his tree. I love going in the stores and seeing all the lights, the decorations and hearing all the cheer. I love saying, “Merry Christmas!” when a sales person is required to say, “Happy Holidays,” and watching their eyes light up, because that is what they’d rather be saying to me. I love making someone smile who is feeling weary, doubtful or fearful and reminding them there is a wonderful reason we celebrate this season, and there is hope for their life. I just love Christmas time!

One of the things I look forward to the most at Christmas is putting up our pre-lit tree and taking part in, once again, the family traditions which we began so many years ago. When I was just a babe, my mom began collecting ornaments for me each year, and we have continued the tradition with our boys. We have a little nativity scene, which is presented with a storybook of, “What God wants for Christmas,” with which we commemorate Christ in the season, and this year, we began an “It’s All About Christmas” jar, in which we write a little note of gratefulness or what the season means to us, and we will read on Christmas Eve to celebrate the day. These are the traditions which cause us to remember the importance and the “reason for the season.” These are the traditions that bring us together as a family and remind us that love is at the center of that reason.

Does your family do something special during this time of year? What are YOUR Christmas traditions? I’d love to hear about them! Please feel free to add them in the comments below. 🙂

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