It is quiet here this morning, much too quiet, as our Christmas celebration has come to an end and all of the children and grandchildren have returned home. Time to reflect.
Some family traditions remained – unchanged. Baking cookies, making fudge, attending Christmas Eve service, a big pot of chili for dinner on Christmas Eve, Papa reading Twas the Night before Christmas just prior to bedtime, monkey bread for breakfast on Christmas morning, and an informal family photo on Christmas Day.
One tradition was revived as we had the opportunity this year to introduce a new generation to the Shillito elves of our “family traditions past.”
A new tradition established a little stronger foothold as several family members from three generations shared a Christmas memory in our Christmas Past journal. One day, hopefully, everyone will feel comfortable to share. It was so much fun to read each one’s memories! And what a family keepsake this will become!
And, truthfully, some traditions suffered loss this year or in recent years.
For the past several years our family has made an annual trek to the nearby Entertrainment Junction – a massive train display. Each year Entertrainment Junction does a wonderful job of setting up a FREE Christmas display – multiple train displays (one complete with a “Where’s Waldo” type of “Can you spot a … zany zebra, goose on the loose, reindeer, etc?”), trees, lights, and photo spots. The kids can spend hours trying to find everything hidden in the “Can you spot a…” display!
This year we didn’t make it to Entertrainment Junction. There simply was not enough time. On Christmas afternoon as we were opening gifts, my five-year-old grandson walked over and mentioned that we had not yet gone to “the train place.” He then asked if we were going today! I had to tell him that they were not open on Christmas Day and made mental note that this tradition is important to him and must not be “lost.” (My husband and I did have opportunity to watch this particular grandchild and his sister for a couple of days earlier this week. We made sure to take them to “the train place” Monday evening!)
Another extremely important to our family tradition that has suffered loss the past couple of Christmases is the reading of Luke chapter two first thing on Christmas morning. Observing this tradition was easy when our children were young. They woke up in their beds, we gathered in someone’s bedroom, and my husband read the passage before we did anything else.
Our children are now grown and have children of their own. It has certainly become more complicated. Individual family arrivals and departures are not consistent from year to year. They just can’t be. And being aware of this, we are simply going to have to become more intentional in the observance of this treasured tradition.
For the past three years one family has been with us as we awoke on Christmas morning. The other two have joined us at differing times later in the day. So… we would delay the reading of the passage waiting for all of us to be together and read together. Then…. Yes, families would arrive, we would get caught up in the activities of the day, and the day would come and go with no reading of the passage.
I noticed it. My husband noticed it. My son-in-law mentioned it early in the week this year. This was important. We needed to become proactive and intentional. Another Christmas could not be celebrated by our family without the reading of Luke chapter two.
A family tradition was tweaked! Our grandchildren enjoy acting out scenes from Bible accounts as part of their family devotions from time to time. Why not with Luke chapter two? There wasn’t much time for planning and prep. Props were gathered from around the house – yardsticks, beach towels, a cloth banner, and some photography prop angel wings. This year as our family gathered in the living room just before opening gifts, we acted out Luke two as Grandpa read it. Those who wanted to participate drew roles from a bucket and were handed their props. Then they waited in the wings until Grandpa got to their part. I have to say that I think this was the most meaningful reading of Luke two our family has enjoyed on Christmas Day. There’s just something about being witness to the genuine and unrehearsed responses of children to what they hear as God’s Word is read: a seven-year-old shepherd falling back in great fear as the angel appears to her, the heavenly host exploding in excitement as they praise God, and our seven-month old lying on the floor in front of her mother as Baby Jesus. I have a feeling this new version is here to stay. Perhaps I should begin gathering more props now!
How about in your family? What traditions were observed as usual? Were there any important-to-your-family traditions that may have been lost for some reason? Any new-to-you or tweaked traditions celebrated this year? This is the best time to reflect and intentionally set about to plan for next year – while it’s fresh on your mind and in your memory!