This is a wonderful time of year. It is my favorite time of year. The lights are magical. The food is fantastic. Time with family is memorable. People seem to make spending time together a priority during this time of year. And there is nothing like the smell of a real Christmas tree.
We had several traditions during Christmas when I was growing up; traditions that I have tried to continue with my kids. There were four of us – two boys and two girls – in our house. Seeing Santa Claus was a big deal, but it wasn’t just seeing Santa Claus, we had to see the “real” one. For us kids the “real” Santa was the one at a local mall in the city. He has the wavy hair and beautifully styled beard. He was quite fluffy and jolly. Mom and dad would pack us up in the car to make the drive to the city to get our picture made with Santa. Sometimes my grandparents were in town and would go with us which made for an even more memorable photo. On Christmas day, we all had to be up before the gifts could be opened. Nobody could start until dad had the camera ready and we were all sitting by the tree. Santa left his gifts unopened near the tree. We finished the morning off with a big family breakfast and then it was off to play with our stuff. It wasn’t just Christmas day, it was a day with family. I remember very little, in fact not much at all about the gifts that were given. This does not mean that I didn’t enjoy them. I am sure I did, but I enjoyed the time with family so much more.
Christmas Day has shifted a little now that me and my siblings have our own families. We have continued the Santa photo at the mall with a lot more people included. No matter the age, Santa still leaves an unopened gift by the tree for the kids. The food is even better than I remember growing up. When the grandkids became old enough, we added baking cookies together to give away. Gifts with my kids does tend to be about some of the things they would like to have, but there is more of an emphasis on experiences than just something to unwrap. Experiences throughout the year – restaurants to enjoy, games to play, vacations together, a manicure. These are the kinds of things you will remember always.
Did you know there are 160 countries that celebrate Christmas? The most common Christmas traditions are caroling, decorating with lights, stockings, mistletoe and decorating a tree. History shows that Prince Albert put up the first Christmas tree at Windsor Castle in 1841. Mince pies were originally made with 13 ingredients representing Christ and the Apostles and were baked in the shape of an oval to represent the manger. I did not know all of those things and as important and interesting as they might be to some, they are not the most important things we should be remembering.
The most important is why we celebrate Christmas. It is so easy to get caught up in the shopping and decorating and lose sight of the real meaning. This time of year is celebrated to commemorate Christ’s birth. His birth was a miracle in itself. His life was filled with
countless very intentional examples, actions, and stories for us to follow as we live our lives.
God created the heavens and the earth and everything in it. He created Adam and Eve. Unfortunately, the devil existed also and tempted Eve who then tempted Adam. God’s intention was to create a world for us filled with joy and peace – I believe this. However, in his creation of us, he gave us free will. He gave us the ability to choose. Adam and Eve chose poorly which changed the trajectory of everyone’s life in this world. The birth of Jesus was God’s way of saving us. He sent his Son to set an example for us in the way we should live our lives which is according to HIS purpose. God gave us the ultimate gift at Christmas. He gave us the opportunity to set forth memorable traditions within our families.
This Christmas season, remember what God gave. He gave an ultimate gift that should be memorable to us all.