This first set is more generic Christmas traditions, i.e. everybody probably does them.
—Christmas lights. I love driving around at night to see them; and although I didn’t get to it this year, I even love putting them up. (Taking down, not so much.)
—The bell ringers. I suppose the dinga-lingin’ could get to you after a while (I’d hate to be the ringer!), but there’s something about stepping out of your car in the Kroger parking lot and hearing those Salvation Army bells for the first time that says, “it’s Christmas”.
—Gift giving. I won’t hide the fact that I love both giving and receiving gifts. It’s my love language, so naturally it comes, um, naturally for me to enjoy this aspect of Christmas.
—Christmas caroling! Who doesn’t enjoy an excuse to sing as long and loud as you want with your friends?! Usually our church has a group that sings for the seniors, but I really love it when we actually walk up and down the roads, “caroling caroling out in the snow”, only without the snow, of course. This is Arkansas.
—Christmas Cards. There’s nothing like opening the mailbox and finding real mail inside! I love to see how much kids have grown each year, or reading about the changes and adventures of family and friends.
The following are some of my family’s traditions; things that make the holidays feel special and homey.
—Listening to my Granddaddy read the Christmas story from Luke & Mark before opening gifts. He might be wearing a Santa hat, but he’s reading gospel words, reminding us the reason we’re all gathered.
—Getting creative with the ribbons and bows. And not on the packages. On people’s heads.
—Watching the first half of “It’s a Wonderful Life” on Christmas Eve and the second half on New Year’s Eve. I’m not sure how this started. I think we were too little to stay up late, so we never made it through the whole thing. And then what better way to bring in the new year than with “Auld Lang Syne”?
—Hanging our stockings anywhere other than the mantle. Up until three years ago we didn’t have a mantle anyhow, so the couch, the windows, or door frames were used. But now that we do have a mantle, we don’t have room for them all, so we hang them up on the rails on the banister and then Christmas morning sit along the catwalk to pull out our surprise.
—Making pumpkin bread sometime around Christmas. I’m not sure why we think pumpkin bread is limited to the month of December, but that seems the only time it gets made in our kitchen, so we savor every bite.
You may ask, how did these traditions get started? I’ll tell you…I don’t know. But it’s a tradition. And because of our traditions, every one of us knows who he is and what God expects him to do.