Traditions – Why I Embrace Them

I intend to keep writing Christmas songs. There’s still a lot more about Christmas that can be captured and feel like old-time Christmas.  A lot of the traditions haven’t been explained in song.   Clint Black
If you read my last tTraditionswo posts, you are aware that December at our house is one long celebration.  On my side of the family it kicks off at Thanksgiving with extended family gathering leaving the rest of the holiday season for friends and immediate family celebrations.  David and I then transition to my birthday on December 10, followed by our wedding anniversary a week later, then on to Christmas and New Years.  Since David is an educator, there are seasonal and end of semester activities a at his school.  Of course, we have our church activities as well.
I endeavor to have our plans laid out by the first of November so that we can enjoy the season without too much last minute pressure.  This year is going well.  I made some adjustments in expectations early on given we are in the midst of home renovations (yes that is plural!), but the tree is up at the little house and the formal dining room at Maison Steinbuchel decorated.  This is our favorite place to have meals during the holidays.
When Christmas comes around, traditions seem to come with it.  For some, tradition is something to embrace, for others something to avoid.  Which response has a lot to do with the experience attached to said tradition.  Before going on, what is a tradition really?  An on-line dictionary definition says tradition is:
 A Noun
  1.  the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs,information, etc., from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice: as in a story that has come down by popular tradition.
  1.  something that is handed down
  1.  a long-established or inherited way of thinking or acting
        4.   continuing pattern of culture beliefs or practices
  1.  a customary or characteristic method or manner – The winner took a victory lap in the usual track tradition.

So tradition can be positive or negative depending on application and experience.  When it comes to Christmas, I tend toward the embracing side of things, with adjustments to accommodate our personal journey.  Christmas is an appropriate time of year to capture that which is worth keeping by inserting a tradition to go with the experience and jettisoning experiences associated with standing traditions.
Adjustments I Have Made
– because I was a December baby, my mother took great care to ensure my birthday did not get swallowed up in Christmas.  She always waited to put up the Christmas tree after my birthday and made sure whatever gifts I received for my birthday were distinct from Christmas.  Even in tight financial times, there was never any mention of “this is for both your birthday and Christmas this year”.  I appreciate her for being so intentional about that.  As an adult, I have modified this s to honor my husband’s side of out family whos’ matriarch would have left a Christmas tree up all year round, if allowed to!  I put our tree up and begin decorating the day after Thanksgiving.  My tradition is to kick the season off with gratitude rather than glitter.
– As an Air Force dependent, my husband lived in Europe for at least six of his childhood years.  I was able to tap into that through our travels and living Europe twice since we married.  Christmas in Europe has a depth of tradition that is hard to put into words.  You just have to be there.  We preserve this through our special holiday multiple course meals, decorations and observance of church calendar festivities.  For the latter we migrate to our local Catholic and Orthodox congregations who are ever so gracious when we visit.
– The last tradition is really quite silly.  Early on, we acquired some neat gift tags – many collected in France and Germany.  They are so cute.  Not the usual “to/from” stickers.  I guess because of what these tags represented, the Chris-kindle market we bought it at in Nuremberg , or the boutique we stumbled into in Strasbourg, I could not bear to throw them away.  Thus, these tags are reused every year on the gifts David and I exchange.  These little tags add a depth to the gift being given because it literally has a special experience attached to it.
Behind and Upholding Traditions
But, I can’t leave it there.  None of this would mean anything if it were not for Jesus.  The Christ.  God incarnate. Emmanuel – God With Us.  A baby born the way all babies are born, except she was a virgin.  A baby who grew in wisdom and stature, took first steps, knew hunger, hurt and all manor of pain.  Who attended Hebrew school and learned a skill as a carpenter – God with us acquiring knowledge, understanding and insight – all which He had possessed before joining mankind.  The unchangeable One, yet joined us and is still with us in our journey.
May this day of Celebration awaken traditions in a fresh way for you and yours.
Happy Christmas!
We would love to hear from you.  What one thing do you do or plan to do for this special day? Please comment below.

2 thoughts on “Traditions – Why I Embrace Them

  1. I just finished making Jesus’ birthday cake like I have for almost 50 years. It is a yellow cake made in a bundt pan with the middle hollowed out and filled with lemon pudding. Tomorrow morning I will put fruit – manderan oranges, peach slices and maraschino cherries on top of the pudding and around the cake. Before it is cut and served, we light a candle and sing “Happy Birthday to Jesus”. I began this tradition when my children were born and it has continued with grandchildren who are now 21 and 18, but we will never stop. It is Jesus’ birthday celebration!

    1. I love it! So good to hear from you. I remember the first time I heard the song “Happy Birthday Jesus” – it still wells up inside when I hear it! Happy Birthday Jesus – thank you for another day, week, month and year.

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