Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas Traditions

I love the thought of Christmas traditions. Families reading the Christmas story from Luke on Christmas Eve, always having a certain type of food for breakfast on Christmas, or everyone sharing a cup of hot chocolate before bed- it's a nice thought. As we've grown older, a lot of our family traditions have slowly been retired, such as my siblings and I all sleeping in the same room on Christmas Eve, gifts from Santa, and decorating the tree together. It's just part of getting older, and while I treasure these memories, I'm fine sleeping in my own room on Christmas Eve. Here are a few of my favorite traditions that still live on.

* Every year about two weeks before Christmas, my whole extended family on my dad's side gathers together to exchange Christmas gifts and see each other before we're spread all over the state (or country) for the holidays. We used to exchange gifts at the grandparents house, but now with spouses, babies, and big changes, we center it on the city in which the most family members live. Each year a different family hosts, and this Saturday everyone will be descending on my family's house. It's a great time of food, laughter, and presents (with, of course, the occasional gag gift thrown in). I can't wait for our house to be stuffed with 24 people from the ages of 16 months to 70+ years, though it won't be complete, as my Arizona sister is too far-flung to make the trip out for the event. Despite the fractured family, the event should be a great time, and the continuation of a delightful Christmas tradition.

*We have an old VHS tape that must be at least 20 years old, that has recorded onto it something very special. One year when we actually had the Disney Channel (probably by accident), my mom recorded a special called "A Disney Channel Christmas" hosted by Jiminy Cricket that featured all sorts of Disney Christmas shorts. From "Mickey's Christmas Carol" to Donald Duck wrapping presents to an old black and white Mickey Mouse cartoon in which Mickey sells Pluto to pay for a special Christmas surprise, this tape has it all. Every year my brother and I (and occasionally big sister) curl up under a blanket to watch our special Christmas tape, sing along to the songs, and ring in the season along with Mickey and the gang.
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*One of my favorite traditions involves the tradition almost everyone partakes in. Christmas Eve services used to be tortorous for me to sit through, and I'm sure that's true for a lot of kids. I still feel an inexplicable sense of urgency at church, thinking "Hurry, hurry, hurry! Gotta get home! Gotta get to bed!" But it all comes to a screeching halt when we take out our little white candles and prepare for them to be lit. The lights are turned down in the church, and suddenly the night is so still and reverant. I love watching the candles get lit and watch the flames spread to every corner of the church, until the entire room is filled with the soft glow of golden candlelight. And all the while the beautiful strains of "Silent Night" are being sweetly sung in the background. Everything is different- warm and fuzzy and glittering and perfect- and that's when I'm truly filled with the Christmas Spirit. The Holy Spirit.

2 comments:

Katie said...

Love this, Val. I love Christmas traditions, too...though I am missing the House 9 Abilene Christmas potluck this year. "These mashed potatoes are so creamy..."

Love you!!!

mom said...

Tears to my eyes... you're the best!