I love the holiday season, and especially Christmas, when we get to celebrate the birth of our Savior and spend time with family and friends. When I was young, it was all about the presents I would receive at Christmas. But as I’ve gotten older the emphasis has shifted. I now get much more joy from the gifts we give than the ones I receive. Even more so, it’s about spending time with family members, some of whom have now moved away and we don’t get to see very often. Several years ago, a friend of mine from work talked about the importance of “making memories” over the giving of gifts. There is a lot of wisdom in that.
Our family has many Christmas traditions. When my Mom was alive, we always celebrated on Christmas Eve at my parent’s house, the house I grew up in. Although this will be our 23rd Christmas without Mom since she passed away in 1996, I remember like it was yesterday walking up to their front door on a cold evening, the front windows steamed up due to the cold temperatures outside and the fragrance of the prime rib meal being cooked inside.My Dad may be in the Guinness Book of World Records for most Christmas packages wrapped! Each year, the gifts that he wrapped would be stacked high on the beds in the room at the back of the house that my brother and I had shared when we were young. We would head back there and just be amazed at the number of gifts he had wrapped.
Here are a few of our current Christmas traditions:
Christmas Program at Church. My wife Tammy loves to sing in our church choir and we have a wonderful program of Lessons and Carols each year. Since Christmas Eve is also when my Dad’s wife has traditionally celebrated with her family, we now rotate celebrating on Christmas Eve. We still try to work it out so that Tammy gets to participate in the Christmas program at church, which is a wonderful experience for all and one of the highlights of the entire year.
Christmas Lights. We love to drive around our community and look at the beautiful Christmas lights that people have put up. Our local newspaper lists the homes with the best decorations in the community and we make sure to check those out.
Fraser Fir Christmas Tree. Many people these days put up artificial Christmas trees, rather than live ones. They are less messy and probably a better overall investment than buying a fresh one each year. But we still get a live Fraser Fir from our friends at Casey’s Garden Shop in our community. We love the great “Christmas tree” smell that you get from a Fraser Fir and the friendly people at Casey’s. One of our favorite traditions is to pick out our tree at Casey’s over the Thanksgiving weekend so that we can put it up and enjoy it until Christmas.
Christmas music. I’ve loved Christmas music since my Mom would put on the 1963 classic Andy Williams Christmas Album as we went to sleep as kids. Each year, I listen to almost nothing but Christmas music between Thanksgiving and Christmas (and sometimes start even before Thanksgiving). We have a large Christmas music collection, and add to it each year, including new releases from Matt Maher and Eric Clapton this year. Some of my favorite Christmas albums are by Andy Williams, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bing Crosby, Michael McDonald, Nat King Cole, James Taylor, Russ Taff, Michael W. Smith, Elvis Presley, Steven Curtis Chapman, A Charlie Brown Christmas by Vince Guaraldi Trio, Tony Bennett, Bruce Cockburn, Chris Tomlin, Keith and Kristyn Getty and Perry Como.
Time with Family. As I mentioned, my family’s tradition was to gather on Christmas Eve to exchange gifts and have a prime rib dinner. Tammy’s family’s tradition is to gather on Christmas morning to exchange gifts and have a delicious brunch of country ham and biscuits & gravy. Some family members, particularly my Mom and Tammy’s Dad, are no longer with us. I treasure the time we have with family, especially as I mentioned above that many have moved away and we only get to see them a few times each year.
These are just a few of the Christmas traditions that our family enjoys. How about you? What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions?