Traditions Leave a Legacy

As Christmas quickly approaches my natural inclination is to SPEED UP, to hurry, to make yet another list and one more stop in an attempt to "get it all done". Of course there is holiday decorating, purchasing, meal planning, card sending, present wrapping, party attending, . . . Yet as a Christ - follower desiring to celebrate the birth of my Savior, I sense His whisper to SLOW DOWN and FOCUS ON HIM rather than pursuing a packed and Pinterest - perfect season.

"For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6)

TRADITIONS can help slow us down, as well as provide a firm foundation for Christmas celebrations. They may produce a longing for home and family. They often recall memories long forgotten, yet meaningful. Traditions revolve around the following: What makes our family US? What do WE believe and why? How do WE celebrate Jesus' arrival into this dark world? In my own planning, I want Jesus' birthday to draw us to Himself through all the senses He has given us like no other time of year.

The look of Christmas in our home begins with white twinkly lights, ornaments collected over the years, angels at the top of the tree with a nativity set beneath, and a large red family Bible open to Luke 2 nearby. I prefer Christmas decorations that focus on Jesus' birth and try to get them up early in December to provide the backdrop for celebrating. Everyone has their own style; it's the tradition that makes the decor memorable and special.

We often invite the sound of instrumental music to linger softly in the background during December whether piano, symphony, guitar, celtic . . . It is easy to talk over, while setting a relaxed, festive, yet peaceful mood. Of course some occasions call for Jingle Bells loud and proud, especially when Emma wants to dance!

The feeling of warmth and love matter when people are together, especially over the holidays. We do hugs coming and going! I want folks to feel important and cared about, so I try to stop and enjoy face to face interaction. I keep furry blankets around and flannel sheets on the beds. We are big into "blankies" for movie watching, snuggling, or dragging along the floor... If it happens to be cold enough, nothing says "warmth" like a fire in the fireplace with some cocoa, coffee, or hot tea.

Even smells remind us of Christmas, family, and home. Whether it is cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning, turkey in the oven, or wassail on the stove, we are eased into the atmosphere of anticipation and joy. When away, we yearn for the smells of home and Christmas and would recognize them anywhere.

The tastes of Christmas are different in every family, but are important enough to be passed down for generations. What is a must have Christmas food for your family? We make a birthday cake for Jesus every Christmas which is usually white with red sprinkles. This recipe may vary, but for as long as I can remember, we have always had plenty of Mrs. Beeman's Fudge around. (Mrs. Beeman was an older neighbor who shared her recipe with Mom when she and Dad were newlyweds.) My dad would cover the entire kitchen counter top space with fudge every year. This would be passed along to family and friends.

Traditions can be comforting in that one does not have to reinvent the wheel every year. Children and adults alike anticipate predictable practices they have enjoyed in the past. We attend Christmas Eve church and watch "It's a Wonderful Life" every year. We read from Luke 2 on Christmas Day after gifts and lunch. I always choose an advent reading to ponder throughout December.. We pack Samaritan's Purse shoe boxes . . .

None of these things take a lot of planning or forethought, they are just what WE do!

I am sure that each of you have your own traditions. Life seasons change and family situations may be different. Yet there are always things we can do personally in the depths of our heart to celebrate Christ at Christmas. We may have a tradition of listening to Christmas carols and worshipping while we cook or of reading God's word and journaling in front of our Christmas tree. Sometimes a certain tradition does not serve us well and we decide to let it go; it can also be fun to add a new one.

Remember, TRADITIONS LEAVE A LEGACY. I know that some of our family traditions were started by great - grandparents and I love that! I want to leave a legacy of slowing down enough to FOCUS ON CHRIST and SHARE HIS LOVE WITH OTHERS, especially as we celebrate Christ's birth. God, may all who come behind us find us faithful in providing a Christ - focused, others - centered Christmas tradition that will hopefully be passed down for generations to come.

"Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations."

(Psalm 91:1)

I love this quote by Ann Voskamp: "The miracle of Christmas is that you get more than proof of God’s existence — you get the experience of God’s presence." May each of us come to know Him better and love Him more throughout this season and into 2018!

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