By G. E. Shuman
Near the end of each December my family has two celebrations. You may have guessed that one is Christmas. Actually, and to be precise, both of them are about Christmas. My kids are grown up now, and most of them have families of their own, so, on December 25th, we, at each of our homes, celebrate Christmas in our own way. Then, a week or so after Christmas, we do Christmas again, all together. I love the fact that we still do that. This year the big celebration will take place at my daughter Chrissy’s home, and I am looking forward to it.
It’s interesting, to me, how families seem to follow their own holiday traditions, nearly to the letter, year after year. Although things have changed somewhat in our own home, simply because so many Decembers have passed here, we still celebrate Christmas pretty much the same way every year. The tree goes up in the same spot, with the same angel sitting at its top, and the same decorations adorning its branches, just as they have adorned the branches of so many other trees placed in that spot, during so many other Decembers, past. Christmas lights are first unwound and put on the tree, by me. Then, since my 6’8” son Andrew no longer lives here, I put the highest ornaments on it, in precisely the best spots for them. (This actually means I put them wherever Lorna tells me to put them.) We decorate our two archways, the same way, every year. On Christmas Eve, Lorna still reads the Christmas story from the Bible, and then The Night Before Christmas, to whatever part of our family happens to be gathered with us in the family room that night. We still hang stockings on the fireplace mantle, and Santa, somehow, still seems to fill them before Christmas morning. In the morning we even eat the same breakfast together and begin cooking a big dinner, without many changes. A few years ago, one of my kids actually told me that our celebration was a little boring, because we always do the same things every year. Contrary to what that child’s opinion was on that particular Christmas morning, I think that family traditions are good things to have, and to keep, and in this crazy world may even provide some stability and sense of permanence for us all. In any case, Lorna and I will, likely, continue these old family ways for as many years as we can manage to do so.
One more tradition that my family keeps nearly every year, usually at the big ‘second’ Christmas family feast, has to do with the dessert that is served after that day’s Christmas dinner. This tradition is a special one to Lorna and to me, because, if you don’t know already, we are born again Christians, and feel strongly about the true meaning of Christmas Day. (And here I feel that I must make a confession to you, my faithful readers, even before I tell you about that special dessert.) The confession is that years ago, and for many years, in business, here in the paper, and in my personal life also, I know I downplayed the roll that my faith in God has, in my life. It was easier to just not discuss ‘religion’ and not have to explain all of that stuff to others, no matter how real it was to me, and no matter how much I knew I should discuss it with them. In more recent years that apprehension has simply, somehow, left me, and I am not ashamed, but proud, to have the world know of my belief in God, and of my personal faith in my Lord, Jesus Christ. I’m in my 60s now, and at this point in life I have just received far too many blessings to ever doubt the reality of God, or to worry about what others may think, if they do not agree with me. There, I feel much better. Don’t you?
Anyway, back to our family tradition of that special Christmas dessert. The dessert is a big cake, decorated for Christmas, and with the words ‘Happy Birthday Jesus’ spelled out on it. After all, doesn’t it make sense to celebrate Christ’s birth, in some way, on the day that has been designated to do exactly that? Some years we actually sing the birthday song for Him, and blow out the candles together. To many people that tradition would seem really strange, if they happened to visit our celebration at that moment. If they did visit us, we would just keep on singing, and invite them to ‘join the family’.