ur family’s Christmas traditions snag the majority of my Top Ten Favourite Childhood Memories. Growing up in Michigan, we almost always enjoyed a white Christmas.
Our traditions began the day after Thanksgiving, when we would put on our warmest gloves and trek out to find the perfect Christmas tree. My mom and I would have a go with the saw before handing over the useless tool to my sister, who would inevitably have the tree felled in one swift motion – all because of my strenuous hacks that made the tree so ready to fall, of course. Putting the lights on the tree was a nightmare, so I claimed an allergic reaction and gave my mom and sister the honours. After all, I had to save my energy to prance through the house belting out Celine Dion’s “Christmas Eve” while my sister did the same from her step stool stage next to the half-lit tree. A year didn’t pass without my sister and I flinging fistfuls of flour at each other during the baking of our famous cut-out Christmas cookies. On Christmas Eve we would crowd around the dining room table to dip our colour-coded fondue sticks into the sputtering oil. Then we would head to church, where we each held our own candles as we sang “Silent Night” amidst a full congregation worshipping the incarnate King. Afterwards, in the frigid parking lot, we would squeal and skate over the ice-covered tarmac with our slippery church shoes.
By Kate Motaung
For Tradition Christmas morning brought the anticipation of diving into wrapping paper and Grandma’s cheesy potato bake and pink applesauce. Then came board games and incessant laughter at Dad’s house in the afternoon. Traditions. They shaped so much of my upbringing. Yet what was their purpose? Why did we do what we did? These are questions I asked myself when my own children were born, and I found myself in a foreign country at Christmas time – a foreign country in the southern hemisphere, without the faintest hope of a single flake of snow falling within months of Jesus’ birthday. What traditions should I pass on to my own kids, and why? In 2010, I had the privilege of attending a talk by Noël Piper on the topic, “Treasuring God in our Traditions.” She spoke about how as Christians, our traditions ought to remind us of God’s amazing grace in redemptive history, what He has done for us in the past, and what He promises us for the future. I decided then and there that I wanted to cultivate new traditions for my own family – traditions that would have clear spiritual significance and show others that our family does things differently from the world, purely because of what Christ has done for us. Don’t get me wrong – we still bake the cookies
and decorate the (fake) tree. But we also incorporate new traditions that help us focus on the reason for the season. One of my kids’ favourites is the advent calendar we make every year. Each is different, but the message is the same: Jesus is coming. With every window that is opened each morning leading up to Jesus’ birthday, we read a portion of Scripture that tells the story of His coming. By the end of four weeks, they know exactly what Christmas is all about. This December, though it may sound like a cliché, let’s not forget “the reason for the season”. Happy Christmas.