This time of year is beautiful to me. Not only do I love the transition from Autumn into Winter, but I love the very essence of the season: the family togetherness, the gatherings of friends, the exchanging of gifts, and most especially the traditions. For Americans, Christmas seems more heaped with tradition than any other time of the year. We have traditional songs, movies, party ideas, books, decorations, etc. It is simply amazing to look at all the things that have stemmed from tradition. Not only do we celebrate based on traditions, but often times in celebrating we create our own traditions.
For this entry I just wanted to share two traditions with you (one of the past and one of the present) as we enter into the celebration of Christmas together:
Tradition of the Past: As far back as I can remember my family has had a very special tradition reserved for Christmas Day. This is a tradition that finds its roots in Germany – where most of my family is from. Every year one person hides a pickle ornament in the Christmas tree. Then on Christmas Day everyone stands around the tree, and when the signal is given they begin their search. Everyone scurries around the tree, and rummages through the branches trying to find the pickle. When someone does find it takes the pickles ornament off the tree, and exchanges it, with the host, for an extra present.
Of all the traditions we have on Christmas this is by far one of my favorites, and I’m pretty upset when I’m not the one to find the pickle ornament.
Tradition of the Present: About 5 years back I began a tradition by myself that I have fallen in love with. Every year after my family gets home from the 11pm service at church get a CD player, a sleeping bag, a thermos of hot tea, and a pillow which I place out on the roof – right outside of my window. Then I put on my carhardts, my wool socks, a couple layers of long sleeved shirts, my flannel jacket and a nice warm hat, then I climb out of the window, lay in my sleeping bag and begin my tradition. (Some years I have to dig snow off the roof and lay a tarp down so I don’t lay down in the snow). Once I am comfortable I put Focus on the Family Radio Theater’s production of ‘A Christmas Carol’ into the CD player and listen to it as I watch the clouds move past overhead.
This tradition has become a treasured moment of mine. As I listen to the actors on the radio I feel a part of the story: I can feel the chill of the cold streets, sense the dark alley ways, and sometimes I even feel like the characters are brushing right up against me as I listen. The stars are often bright and I just lay there listening until the story is over. Then in the darkness of the night I gather up my belongings and make my way into my warm bed, where I’ll get about 4-5 hours of sleep until I’m woken up Christmas morning by my brothers.
*For many of us it is these traditions that keep our spirits active this time of year. It is because of them that we find hope and purpose in a hectic season, and it is simply amazing to me how these traditions inspire us, and of how the majority of them often based off of the biggest Christmas tradition of all: the celebration of Jesus Christ.