November 19, 2017

Christmas Traditions

As Christmas rapidly approaches, I constantly remind myself of what makes Christmas….well Christmas. For me, it provides a time to reflect back on the events of the past year as well as looking back to my childhood.

In my mind, my traditions are organized as youth (living at home), married (before children) and married (after children). You’ll begin to see how this all makes sense in the next few lines.

You see in my youth, I was experiencing traditions that my parents lived and were now handing down to me. When I first got married I was faced with two families each with their own traditions.

How many of you all have had to eat two Christmas dinners and go to two Christmas parties? When a couple becomes a married couple everything begins to come in twos. Everything changes.

One of the greatest traditions I experienced in my youth was to put up our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving instead of inundating ourselves in the mad-house shopping spree known as Black Friday.

This tradition has morphed into something a little different as the years have passed, which is one of the nice things about traditions; with a little fine tweaking they can sustain themselves in the present for years to come.

When I was growing up at home we had an artificial tree but now my father opts for the real thing instead, so he waits until about December 5th or so to purchase his tree. After I got married and had children of my own, my wife and I began to create our own traditions.

To begin with, I tried the “real tree experiment” one year with my family but I learned a very valuable lesson. I am allergic to the scent that the lustrous conifer limbs give off.

I made two trips to the doctor and went through about 3 boxes of Kleenex before that tree went out our door on January 1st, which leads me to another holiday tradition that still holds true today.

On January 1st of each year, the good ole tree comes down and packed up or disposed of. My family now enjoys an artificial tree albeit a white one decked out with handmade ornaments and those that my children have created at school.

We have collected many, including several beautiful ornaments from Mrs. Jennie Pearce (Kathy Pearce Cannon’s mother) that still adorn the white branches of our fake tree.

Sounds of college football can be heard echoing in the background as we reluctantly say good-bye to the sport I love until next season or as my wife would say “we joyously say good-bye to football.” She always mentions the fact that this is the time of year to be joyous.

The month of December also brings with it a shortened school month. The children usually get out of school around the 18th which provides for a lot of time around the house.

I usually plan a list of things to accomplish while I have the extra services of the kids but most of the time, only about one or two things actually get completed. But none-the-less, I try.

The extended family time is priceless. One of our favorite things to do as a family is to play board games which I think is becoming something of a lost art. I never see anyone purchasing board games.

When was the last time you actually went down the aisle where they are located in the local department store? Oh well, we find them entertaining and they provide hours of fun away from the beloved television set. It seems to me to be rather humorous that I associate Christmas with board games.

Now I want each of you to think real hard. Surely, you played such games as a child. It is almost a right of passage into adulthood. Remember Twister, Sorry, Trouble, Scrabble, Battleship, Operation, UNO, and what about Simon Says (the electronic version from the late eighties)?

I now have three wonderful children, none of which were born before 1997 and all of them refer to me as “old.” I have introduced them to several new games (or at least new to us) that are quite exciting and thought-provoking as well.

Games such as: Boggle, Blokus, and Mancala. In all honesty these games have been around for years with Mancala being traced all the way back to the time of early man.

Which brings me to another tradition….celebrating “the man.” Yes, I am talking about Jesus. We go to church on Christmas Eve each year and give thanks for all the many blessings that have been given to us.

Each year during the service, I am reminded of family members that have since passed away. I most vividly remember my grandmother and grandfather Jones.

When grandpa would go to church the preacher always found a way to call on him to pray. Grandpa always closed his prayers by saying,”…..and Lord, we thank You for Jesus.” This he did all the time, not just around Christmas and it is one of the things I remember most about him.

He wasn’t embarrassed to say “thank you” in front of a congregation of worshipers. After all, in the Christian mind, Christmas is Jesus’ birthday.

My grandfather passed back in 2004 and my grandmother Jones in 2006. The last two years of her life were very tumultuous battling cancer but she was also dealing with a broken heart.

She missed my grandfather immensely but she always managed to carry on some of the family traditions that us grandchildren had become accustomed to.

Grandma always cooked a dinner on Christmas day and everyone was invited. Attendance wasn’t mandatory but most found their way to her house sometime during the day, if not to eat then just to visit.

It was the one time of the year that I could see how much our extended family was growing. Each year we had newly married couples or new bundles of joy to celebrate. It was a time that I miss.

Today as I write this article I am surprised at the things I remember and what I choose to continue on each year. I will never purchase a real tree again; however, I may purchase another fake tree, possibly a green one.

Traditions help us keep the memories of our loved ones alive. Traditions are meant to be passed down to future generations and traditions make Christmas…..well Christmas.

I wish each of you a very Merry Christmas !

Please feel free to share your favorite Christmas traditions.

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