Christmas Traditions

Long gone are the Christmas traditions I grew up with during childhood. I’m not sure I can remember any from that part of my life. Not unless you count having to hang each icicle on the tree individually!

Seriously, my wife, Kathleen, and I have established our own Christmas traditions. Christmas Eve starts with a candle lighting service at church. If we don’t eat before going, we have a quick meal when we get home and then head to the table we keep the little tree and the presents on.

I’m not sure why we started doing our opening of presents on Christmas Eve, but it makes Christmas morning easier. (While I was growing up, my mother’s health situation required her to eat breakfast before we could do presents; obviously not a kid-friendly necessity.)

After that, we put the DVD of Celtic Woman’s  Christmas special on and thoroughly enjoy the music and the costumes. And we always express our amazement at the way the CW violinist dances and prances around on stage while playing so beautifully!

Breakfast on Christmas morning is apt to be one of the favorites we usually only have on weekends–waffles or pancakes. This year we’re getting bacon bits to put in the waffles.

Although we always eat out for Thanksgiving dinner, I doubt there are any restaurants open on Christmas day. Sometimes we splurge and buy crab for me to make crab cakes. Or a leg of lamb. But this year Kathleen is going to fix pizza and a sugar-free apple pie. Yum!

This year will be the beginning of a new tradition. We saw the animated movie The Star when it came out last year and then bought the DVD to watch on Christmas Day. As much as we enjoyed it last year, it’s been tough to hold off watching it ever since the DVD arrived.

Most important of all traditions, however, is making a point of remembering that Christmas isn’t really about any of those things. It’s the celebration of the birth of our Savior and Lord. How God could impregnate Mary supernaturally is something we’ll never be able to comprehend, but the fact that Jesus was both God and man is an essential element of the Christian faith.

That makes His the most worthwhile birthday of any to celebrate year in and year out.

Thanks to my good friend Tammy Van Gils for her recent blog post about Christmas traditions; that’s what inspired me to write about Kathleen’s and my traditions.

Do you have any special traditions? How about sharing a comment.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Now available on Kindle!

Links you might be interested in:

 

Advertisements

Victory in Jesus — Really an Easter Song


Churches have a variety of different traditions, even within the same denomination. At my church we sing the refrain from the old hymn “Victory in Jesus” at the end of almost every worship service. Even though the words are projected on the screen, very few people need to see them. The lyrics are deeply ingrained in most of our memories. Even in the minds of many of the children.

The funny thing is, most people still follow the words on the screen as if they can’t remember them. I can’t be too critical of that, however. I thought I knew them well until I got ready to write the refrain down below. Alas! I had to dig out a hymnal to be sure I had it right.

O victory in Jesus, my Savior forever,
He sought me and bought me with his redeeming blood;
He loved me ere I knew him,
And all my love is due him.
He plunged me to victory beneath the cleansing flood.

I have an unfortunate disadvantage about things like that. Playing bass guitar on the praise team, I’m usually focusing on the music of every hymn we do, not the words. Would I dare to get sidetracked from my playing by thinking about the words?

Sometimes I wonder if any of the other congregants actually think about the words while singing them. It’s far too easy to sing them by rote after all these years–even when reading them off the screen when that shouldn’t be needed.

How shameful for any of us to take the victory we have through Jesus for granted…

When God created the world and placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, He gave them free will. He wanted them to love Him. For that to happen, he had to make them free to reject Him. And so they did, and the world has been going downhill ever since.

But God never intended for mankind to continue living in hopelessness. Jesus came to earth to live, die, and be resurrected as both God and man to make things right with everyone who accepts His gift–not just eternal life in Heaven, but the most meaningful earthly life possible…with a sense of purpose unlike any other.

Hmm. Victory in Jesus? We may sing it every Sunday, but what an especially appropriate hymn to sing and to think about–to really think about–this Easter season. Maybe even to think about as if we’ve never really thought about it before.

What’s your favorite Easter hymn? Your comments are welcome.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

          

Links you might be interested in:

 

A Yearly Christmas Tradition

As I was typing the title for today’s post, it occurred to me that my wife and I don’t have many traditions. Eating pizza whenever it snows might qualify as one, but always having Sunday dinner out seems more like a habit than a tradition.

Even when it comes to Christmas, we have very few traditions. In fact, only one comes to mind. Opening presents when we get home from the Christmas Eve service at church. Without kids to wake us up on Christmas morning, it seems like a good practice.

A good practice? See? I didn’t even think to refer to it as a tradition.

But there’s one Christmas tradition my wife doesn’t have the opportunity to participate in, and I had the chance to enjoy it today (“today” is last Wednesday).

As many of you know, especially if you’ve been following this blog for a while or paying attention to the songs I post on my website, I participate in our church’s weekly nursing home ministry. Except on the second Wednesday of the month when a different group comes to conduct the service.

Our services consist mostly of our group singing hymns familiar to the residents and doing a brief devotional. It’s also a time for me to get to share one of my two hundred or so original songs.

Our group consists of two leaders–I think of them both as leaders, anyhow, even though Jeff is now the pastor at a different church–and three others who sing. Three more people come and mingle with the residents, help to bring them to the dining hall, and assist the residents in numerous other ways. They also help to stow our equipment away once we finish.

The other members of the team are people I have very little contact with at church or elsewhere, even though we have a very good relationship at the nursing home and I thoroughly enjoy being with them. I’m able to ignore the fact that five of them are actually older than I am!

My one Christmas tradition, the one my wife doesn’t get to participate in, is a group dinner at Cracker Barrel on the Wednesday closest to Christmas Day–or, as it worked out this year, one week before.

All but one member of our group participated–she had made other plans–and we enjoyed a special time of fellowship as well as a yummy meal. Considering some of the differences in age, interests, and life experiences, our ability to enjoy one another that way is remarkable. Wonderful.

One thing that makes this meal time together special for me is the realization that–even though all of us seem to be in good health–our celebration together next year might see drastic changes. Somebody might have died. Or have become seriously ill.

As weird as it feels to consider the possibility, one of us might even have become a resident at the nursing home and no longer able to participate actively in the ministry there.

That’s probably the main reason this tradition means so much to me. Although the practice of eating together at Cracker Barrel may continue for years to come, those participating next year may not all be the same ones who participated this year.

I love and appreciate my fellow team members, and I just want to thank them for the role they play–not only in the lives of the nursing home residents, but in mine.

Do you have a special tradition–related to Christmas or to something else? How about sharing a comment?

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger