Today your Savior is born in the city of David. He is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11 NET)
Once we moved overseas it was 25 years before we were again in the USA for Christmas. That was quite a while. During most of those years we had children at home to celebrate the incarnation, the fun, the songs, and the family time. Over the years, the children have grown up, left home and established their own homes in the USA. Along with their new homes and families, our children are married and have their own traditions.
I love family traditions, especially for holidays. There are good traditions like candy and presents I think everyone enjoys. There are the “not so good” traditions such as one of the children being sick every holiday season. Christmas probably has more traditions than any other season. I love special decorations which bring back enjoyably memories. I love the smell of Christmas cookies baking. I love the smell and look of a “real” and perfectly decorated Christmas tree. I love to throw tinsel at the tree while the family tells me to stop.
Our first Christmas on furlough in the USA with our children married and grandchildren was an exercise in diplomacy, bartering, and great joy. Just about every Christmas I remember someone was sick. That year was no different. I don’t remember who was under the holiday weather but someone was. Maybe it was me. Nah.
Diplomacy was the first skill to be exercised. Now that Mom and Dad, those missionaries who lived overseas, were in town the routine of spending the holidays with the “other” in-laws was in jeopardy. Who would go where, when and with whom so no one was left out or hurt that the “norm” was being interrupted. This worked out just fine with a little shifting of our children’s holiday routines to squeeze us in.
We then moved to bartering. God provided a small home for us to occupy during the holiday season. Since it was normally used by families with terminally ill children in local hospitals it was a bit lacking in holiday spirit or decoration. So, we started bartering. We borrowed a tree from our daughters in law along with some decorations. We borrowed more decorations and stuff from our son’s family and Beth even picked up a few new items. In the end, we had a very “family” oriented tree decorated with stuff from everyone we were related to in town.
Beth baked cookies with our daughters and there were plenty of goodies to go around. There were too many and I was hard pressed to eat them all. We found presents for all the children, in-laws, grandchildren at the various shops around town. And they even put some presents from themselves to us under our tree. It looked very festive.
Christmas day the traveling began. Two of our children and one of our grandchildren came to our little borrowed house in Kentucky. We opened presents, ate cookies, had fun, had a nice meal and enjoyed family.
It was great to see most of our children for the holiday. There’s a sense of relief and calmness in revisiting traditions now and then. When we arrived in town nothing was in place. We had to piece things together from family, friends, and shops to attempt building a touch of tradition while living out of suitcases. I think it worked pretty good.
Along with family holidays I find I’ve developed traditions in my Christian walk. Traditions (some call them habits) can be found in my prayer life, my study life and even how I approach worship on Sundays. I think it’s our human nature that finds comfort in things we understand and things which hold good memories. We need to take time to build our traditions, to find those places of comfort which help us press forward in our walk with Christ. Jesus grew up surrounded by traditions which impacted his earthly life. The same is true for us. What are our traditions?