As I prepared for Christmas this year, I focused on keeping it simple and keeping it consistent. So, we’ll end up at the same house, same people, same schedule, practically the same menu and maybe even the same clothes. We’ll likely sit in the same spots as we gather around the same decorated tree to exchange gifts. I love that my kids have this simple tradition; each year, they are able to anticipate a warm and pleasant Christmas, celebrating with the people who love them the most!
But when my husband and I sat late one night wrapping gifts, I considered that my kids’ Christmas will not always look the same!
It was nearly midnight and we were almost done wrapping gifts – finally! Last on the checklist = Santa gifts. I wrapped two gifts, one for my son and one for my daughter. We use a brand new roll of wrapping paper and I disguise my handwriting on the gift tag. It is a feeble attempt to keep the magic of Santa alive for my 5-year-old. The 9-year-old knows the truth, and based on questions from the 5-year-old, I sense this “Santa” thing won’t last much longer.
I wrote “From Santa” on the tag, and thought about this part of our tradition. It has been the norm for the past 10 years; how significant to reach the end of this particular phase! Then I began to reflect on Christmas with my kids. (It was quite late, I’d had some wine; the perfect time to become reflective and emotional!!)
Am I putting too much emphasis on creating tradition? Will it be difficult for my kids to cope when change naturally occurs? Does the pleasure from celebrating Christmas come from the trivial routine instead of our knowledge of what this holiday is really about??
Having tradition brings a sense of comfort, security and peace. Yet I am not so naive to believe Christmas will stay the same forever. Things change, life happens. Traditions change, people move away (or pass away). This same Christmas I’ve tried so hard to give them is not a given.
But this is okay!! The way we experience the holiday will change – that’s a fact. But the reason we celebrate remains constant! At Christmas we remember that God loved his creation so very much that God chose to come to us; to suffer with us, to experience what we experience, and to ultimately sacrifice for us. There is no greater way to express love!
In the spirit of reflecting on the past, I revisited my own weekly writing. Year after year, no matter what story I was trying to tell or what emotion I was experiencing, I come back to this same Truth! So I will end with old links, and some favorite lines.
Life experience changes, but one thing is constant: God loves the world, God redeems, and God makes all things new! Merry Christmas!
Christmas is a celebration of God’s presence! “Joy through Christmas is knowing the love of Christ through God’s gift of relationship and God’s promise to give unending love and unconditional grace.”
But like the constant presence of holiday goodies, God’s sweetness is all around us. God’s presence resides in the help of a friendly neighbor, the laughter of a young child, the listening ear of a dear friend in a time of need, the hug shared between mother and child.
And most amazing of all, God’s presence lies in an innocent child who lay in a manger some 2,000 years ago.
So the message that remains is that we celebrate Christmas because it is Jesus’ birthday. Soon – likely just a few weeks from right now – she’ll begin to see the other ways this world celebrates Christmas. But this is what she knows about Christmas right now. She wanders the house singing “Happy Birthday to Jesus.”