Three major holidays take place during December. Members of the African-American culture often celebrate Kwanzaa. Those of the Jewish faith observe Hanukkah. Both of these holidays span over the course of an entire week, but most Americans in the United States celebrate Christmas on December 25th. People of all walks participate in numerous traditions that surround their favored holiday.
Each holiday traditionally observes certain activities and most families have created their own special versions. There are a several things in common with the three holidays mentioned above:
- People take the time to love and cherish their family and friends
- Gifts are purchased and made to give one another
- Individuals reflect on their blessings
- Feasts and delicacies are savored
- Sweets abound
Christmas commemorates the birthday of Jesus Christ. This is one of the three most important days in the life of any Christian; Jesus’s birth (Christmas), His death (Good Friday), and His resurrection (Easter Sunday).Christmas is also celebrated with a special tree, decorations, and Santa Claus, but the heart of the holiday is still in remembering Christ’s birth.
My Family Traditions
My family begins Christmas traditions early in the month by driving to a local tree farm, selecting, and cutting down just the right tree. It may not be perfect, but it fits the mood of the day, maybe a little fat, or leaning slightly to the left or right. It might look a little tattered and torn depending on the year’s events, but it is always fun to find. After imbibing in some hot chocolate, we spend the remainder of the day putting up the tree with all the accompanying decorations and ornaments.
One day each December we eat at a carefully selected restaurant in Portland, Oregon to enjoy a special holiday lunch. For years we went to the same restaurant, but as things changed over time we have chosen new and different places to relish. Some years lunch participants consisted of just my children and I, while other years have included friends and additional family members.
On Christmas Eve we gather with my parents and attend a candlelight service where we sing Christmas carols and hear the story of Jesus’ birth from the Scriptures. After a dinner of hot homemade clam chowder, salad, and bread, we partake of the numerous homemade candy and cookies. When finished we each open a single gift from under grandma and grandpa’s tree. It’s always difficult to go to bed on Christmas Eve anticipating what Santa will bring overnight.
Early on Christmas morning everyone awakes and rummages through their stockings to discover what Santa delivered. Our traditional Sour Cream Coffee Cake is distributed and we hand out the remaining presents from under the tree. Each person gets a turn and opens one present then we go around the circle to the next person. When all presents are open, we sit down to a hearty breakfast. My good friend has a longtime tradition of serving biscuits and gravy on Christmas morning. This year will be the second Christmas we enjoy with her and her boys so we have adopted their breakfast tradition and she prepares it for everyone.
Later, while lounging around visiting, everyone takes the opportunity to shower and dress for the day. A grand feast of ham or prime rib with all the trimmings miraculously arrives on the table in the late afternoon with several hours of games to follow. Candy and cookie consumption continues until no one can eat another bite.
Over the years we have added new friends and family to our festivities and blended some of their traditions with our own. Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah, all emphasize and celebrate the most important thing in life…loving one another! Do you have family traditions? Traditions can inspire us to love. If you have your own traditions, take the time this year to start some and continue them throughout the years to come.