Christmas Traditions

We’ll watch White Christmas, Christmas Vacation, Elf, and Home Alone.

We’ll bake cookies for Santa, play Bingo for rewards like soap and toilet paper, and gobble up Chex Mix.

We’ll stay up too late, wrapping presents by the glow of the tree, singing along to carols in the background.

We’ll scribble out the Christmas cards and stick on the festive stamps.

We’ll make those last-minute trips to the stores to pick up the items we forgot on all the other trips.

We’ll take in the Christmas Eve candlelight service at our church, welcoming the chance to be still and to ponder the reason for the season.

Sometimes we do these things with great heart and other times, we go through the motions, doing all the things we think we should do to observe the holidays. I recall one particular Christmas Eve morning when we received the news yet another round of fertility treatments had failed. We were crushed. Later that day, we spent time with extended family, small children running everywhere, and it all felt so hollow. But as we continued to go through the motions that year, we slowly started to feel our burdens lighten. So many of the traditions we observed each year had been part of our experiences since childhood, and they brought back welcome memories that forced some of the clouds hanging overhead away.

We know too many people who have lost loved ones this year and they weigh heavy on our hearts during this season. Sometimes, those remembrances of days gone by will be too much for them to bear. Yet, there’s a magic to this time of year that seems to help many of us remember our blessings in spite of our sorrows, to help us remember all we’ve been given instead of all we’ve lost.

The romanticized, idyllic version of Christmas I hold in my head rarely comes to pass, but I will enjoy every moment I can. I’ll sing along with Rosemary and Bing and drink the good coffee and eat pastry while I watch my kids open presents. I’ll pull my favorite board games from the closet and hope someone will join in, and I’ll leave my tree and lights up past December 26, at least until Epiphany. And most of all, I’ll drink in the wonder of the season.

Sometimes I feel like Charlie Brown, who said, “I just don’t understand Christmas, I guess…isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”

So I’m grateful for the Linuses, who remind me. “Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about,” said Linus Van Pelt. “’For behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’” (Luke 2:8-14, KJV)

“That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown,” said Linus.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

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