Holiday traditions

If you sat down to a dinner something like this in the last few days, you are among the most financially wealthy people in the world.

Thanksgiving dinner

salad and roll

As am I.

Sometimes it almost seems like a sin, feasting so much—in a way that has nothing to do with whether or not I overeat. But I remember the feasts built into God’s laws from the earliest days, and I know that whatever simplicity may be called for in ordinary living, and however joyfully He invites us to share our abundance with the less fortunate, He loves when we celebrate His good gifts together.

This brings me a lot of joy.

I like holidays steeped in tradition. Our Thanksgiving dinners are with my parents, and seldom vary: turkey, stuffing, both sweet potatoes and mashed, cranberries, and pumpkin pie (not to mention the vegetable sides). The day after, I dig boxes out of storage and decorate the house for the Christmas season. I’ve seen a lot of facebook pictures of lovely and costly decorating, and sometimes I really wish I were that kind of a person. My Christmas decorations come mostly from the woods.

berries in stoneware jug

Scrabble word Immanuel

Pine boughs, red berries, birds’ nests (I can take photographs that make them look artsy, but sometimes they look tacky, even to me)… and a few carefully-stored treasures.

The Nativity scene for babies, bought at a craft fair by my Aunt Rhonda several years ago. It will win no prizes for beauty, but little hands love these people…

wooden Nativity

And the jeweled Nativity, which Kelly arranges and rearranges and adds to, with her best matchbox Minnie Car and a bobblehead named James, so that they can worship as well…

porcelain Nativity

And the Baby Jesus doll, best beloved, in the manger my husband and son built together. He is sleeping on a crocheted dresser scarf for now, to be quite honest with you, until I can get outside to cut some dried grasses.

baby Jesus doll

Did you know that you can buy a baby doll for five dollars, and cut him some swaddling clothes and a hat from white fleece? Kelly loves this Baby with all her heart, and looks forward to him year after year.

We like to add a pair of baby boy shoes somewhere—in fact, one pair has been sitting in my living room for a year now because I never had the heart to take them down. I’ll soon be making Party Mix and Buckeyes, and perhaps we’ll do our Advent of Quiet again this year. These are the traditions.

And then there are the surprises. Such as coffee grounds leaking all over my pot. And kindness in unexpected places. And fostering twists and turns. And my dog’s astonishing Black Friday gift to me: puppies.

puppy paws

I have no idea how she managed this, since she does not exactly hang out with other dogs, nor how I missed all the signs. Does this kind of thing happen to normal people? I’m naming the darlings Shades of Evening–partly for their coloring and partly for their uncanny arrival. Midnight, Twilight, Starlight, Dusk, Gloaming, and Sunset. I have two thoughts: What a dumb time of year for this, and How utterly adorable!

newborn puppy

I invite you to celebrate both tradition and surprise this season (this is me forcing an Important Lesson Out of Nothing)… but, however you celebrate, don’t forget—this month-long ecstatic exhausting Jubilee is all about a baby. He was small and messy and helpless. Put Him in your children’s hands. Welcome Him. Cherish Him. Touch Him.

Baby Jesus' hand

God with us.


Your turn! What do the children in your life love best about Christmas? What early-season traditions does your family enjoy?

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9 years ago

My children absolutely love helping spread the greenery and pine cones and berries. One year I suddenly noticed my son’s red and green dinosaurs camouflaged among the candle rings. ( I laughed at the puppies.)

9 years ago

I love your style of Christmas decorating. Your influence has changed the way I think and decorate for this season!!!

9 years ago

We have a few traditions, but most of them are over Christmas traditions. This year I am trying to decide if it is worth putting out Christmas decor, but I feel I should for the children. 🙂 I lean toward the natural decor too. Last year I had some fresh limes and cranberries on hand that I used in a globe with a candle.

9 years ago

For our family, it’s definitely the music. Our little church has a Christmas choir each year, and we get together throughout November for several practice sessions. This year, the children are singing three songs by themselves. Between now and Christmas, we will be giving programs at our local retirement homes.

Here at home, we play Christmas music from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. Right now, it’s “Bring a Torch, Jeanette Isabella.” My favorite. (Is it possible to have 25 favorites?)

Kind of reminds me of the way I feel about books.

9 years ago

This is kind of behind the times but another really good book is Created to Be His Help meet by Debi Pearl. I love your honesty Shari may God bless you for being transparent. Blessings& Joy to you n yours, RosaLee

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