In an era when many churches are very quickly modernizing, casting aside traditions of the ancient Christian faith as dead weight or false beliefs, I am excited to say that we are revisiting some very special ones and starting some new ones.
It seems in this fast-paced, quick-changing, ever advancing era we live, we often make quick decisions about so many things including our spiritual lives and often irresponsibly cast things aside which should not be forgotten.
the Spirit of Christmas
I believe it’s time to build traditions, family, faith and values. One way you can do that this season, is to take time to make memories. Do things that are out of the ordinary this season and then do them EVERY year during this season.
This year, revisit some old traditions that are almost forgotten in your family. Take a few moments to think about the years past and your favorite memories of the season. Recreate them. Bring that spirit, that experience in your home today! Rekindle the joy and kindness of the season.
Some of my old traditions include:
1. Cutting down the Christmas tree out in the woods with dad.
(I will never forget the year he drug my brother and I through the woods as we attempted to help him carry the tree top! He literally took off running and Shannon and I clung for dear life! As dad flew through the woods at what seemed like 80 mile per hour speed limits, (Everything seems faster and bigger when you are a child), we were slung off and left to pick ourselves up and chase after the run away Christmas decoration!)
2. Putting the Christmas Tree up at Thanksgiving.
3. Eating TONS of food and the grandmothers’ houses!
4. Having enough snack food to last through the New Year!
(Mom always had the largest array of goodies you have EVER seen. Even during the tight years, we ALWAYS had goodies. Mom was amazing at finding a way to make Christmas seem special).
5. Trying to stay up all night and SEE Santa.
(Shannon and I were master Santa Trappers!)
6. Going to the Christmas Play at the church.
(I will never forget the year that our church decided to do a real, living Nativity. It was outdoors and had built props and live animals. It was enormous! Pudgie Collins and I weren’t able to see, so we decided to get a better look at the entire event by going to the second floor of the church. As I got over to the window and looked out, Pudgie, not thinking about what he was doing, turned the lights on! In moments, the whole outdoor pagent was illuminated! It seemed that heaven had opened up and shone a spotlight on the whole event. AAALLLLEEELLLUUUUIIIIAAA!!!
In my mind, I think you could almost hear Handel’s Messah ring out. However, it was anything but a glorious experience for those that were on the ground outside. Everyone in the crowd and in the play stopped what they were doing to see where this spotlight had come, looking up, they saw exactly where it had come from and they could see me standing at the window looking out! There was no escaping this one. I was caught! Needless to say, I got it when I got home. Yet, even now writing about it, I don’t see this as a bad memory. It’s not titled, “The Year I Ruined the Christmas Pageant.” I would call this story, “Spotlighting a Grand Tradition!” My mom would probably call it; “the Year Santa Almost Didn’t Come!” hahaha.)
7. Drinking Eggnog when we put up the Christmas Tree.
(Now, this is one of my latest additions, and I have to say that it is an old tradition in Lori’s family. But, this has quickly become one of my favorite traditions that we even do now as we put the tree up. When it’s all done, we turn off all the lights in the house and just leave on the Christmas lights and have a glass of eggnog while looking at our accomplishments).
8. Giving Home-Baked Goodies to the Neighbors.
(Mom would drive us through the country to each one of our Very distant neighbors to deliver goodies that we had made. She really knew how to make people smile!)
9. Helping those who had less than us.
(So many times, mom ran initiatives for the unfortunate and the unlovely. It was this faith tradition of compassion that led me to make this a part of our belief-set throughout the year at our church and in my family. But, I remember so many times she would find a family in the community, raise awareness and begin to take up donations and buy so much herself to give them a Christmas. Many times, throughout the year, mom would know what children in the kindergarten class she taught had needs and she would buy them clothes, shoes, and much more. She had a way of making sure that even during the tight years when we lived on a shoe-string budget, she was still able to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and encourage the hurting! I LOVE THIS TRADITION!)
10. Secret Giving
(You know, I think Saint Nicholas holds the corner office on this, however, there are a few others I would love to share with us: Mother Teresa, Jackie Pullinger, and the Secret Santa of Kansas City. I dare us to do the same! Just look at what Jesus said: CLICK HERE.
I challenge you to start new traditions that breathe life into your holidays. Here are a few that we are doing and plan to do at the Hedrick Household. Maybe you want to expand on these or share others. Feel free to comment here and let your ideas be known.
1. Play Games & Put a Puzzle Together as a family.
(Lori and started this. We have a Christmas puzzle that we put together during the entire week. We leave it out and do it together. My love for puzzles came from my Granny Hass. She would often have a puzzle that she would leave out for a month and we would put it together in the afternoons when I rode the bus to her house after school).
2. Give to the Homeless & Needy.
(Well, we really do this all year long, because it’s something we believe in, however, it’s tons more fun to do it during this season. Right now, we are doing a coat drive and this month, we gave away scarves, gloves, sweaters, hot chocolate, candy canes, and much more. Monthly, we go play with the kids in the inner-city of DC. They just don’t get enough of that wholesome, adult interaction.
Weekly, we have groups that go to feed the homeless and we are always looking for new ways to reach out. Find someone or a family that you can spread cheer to by giving. Give them a McDonald’s gift card or something like that. Do it on purpose! GO LOOK FOR THEM! It’s so much fun to drive around looking for people to encourage!)
3. Try going to a mid-night mass at the local Catholic Church. It’s so BEAUTIFUL! This is something we LOVE to do especially in North Carolina. There is a precious Catholic Church there named St. Phillips and their Midnight Mass is the BEST!
4. Take a meal to a person that is shut-in. They LOVE the interaction! And it’s something we love to do. In this season, it’s good to remember the widow and the widower. Often, your smile is what they really need.
5. Light up your yard and your house!
(Share the season of lights with the whole community. Whether you think I am a redneck or not, it doesn’t matter to me. I LOVE LIGHTS! And the BIG blow up things are awesome! Right now in my yard, you will find a bush that is lit up, a huge blow-up snow man and a six-foot snow globe. The windows have candles and ice-cicle lights. I plan to do more next year just as soon as I am able to buy more on-sale stuff. And let me tell you, the neighbors LOVE IT! It’s all the things they would love to do, but don’t want to do to their yard! hahahaha).
6. Be nice to people working in retail and food service.
(REMEMBER! It’s their tough/busy season. So, show kindness. It means a lot to them. I like giving them a $5 Starbucks card. That cheers them up! I say something to the point of, “I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate your hard work during this season… Have some Starbucks on me!”)
7. Let others have the best parking spaces.
(A new thing we are doing is parking far away and walking more. Hey, it’s not a big thing, but it will save your Christmas Spirit!)
8. TIME with family.
(Guys, this is time for family. Not, time for football. Just remember that you ONLY have maybe 100 of these your life and the average is less for men. However, you really only have 17-18 of these with you CHILD. And when they grow up, what traditions do you want them to repeat?! If you want the grandkids to visit when you are older, than take the kids to see grandpa and grandma now! Play together, eat together, spend time together, laugh together, make memories together. It’s these memories they will cherish when you are gone.)
9. TIME with GOD.
(THE REASON FOR ALL OF THIS IS JESUS! Let us never forget! GOD came and was with us as a baby. He left a throne for a stall, robes for rags, angels for shepherds and beauty for pain. So, take time EVERY Christmas to tell the story. As a matter of fact, the brand new tradition I have started is reading the story from Max Lucado’s book, “GOD Came Near.” I read the first passage every year at church and we talk about GOD coming to be with us. Take time to tell the story! Dad’s, I think you are a loser if you make the moms do this! So, get your lazy over-filled selves up and read to your kids.)
10. We go watch a movie on Christmas night. At the Tapestry, it’s become an annual thing. This is one way Lori and I make ourselves available to share our family with others in our area who don’t have family to hang out with. We go get dinner and watch a movie. It is so encouraging.
So, don’t do the same old same old this Christmas. MAKE MEMORIES! I believe that these memories will be the teachers of tomorrow. As our young ones grow, they will be constantly drawn back to the sites, sounds and experiences that made them laugh, that brought them joy, that stirred wonder and that made them fell fulfilled.
Make the most of your Christmas! Make Memories! Make Traditions!
Have a wonderful holiday season and may the Lord truly bless you and yours!
PS, Tapestry, we meet at 5pm at the PD & Lori’s house to go out for our 3rd Annual Dinner & a Movie. All are welcome! And we have no services on Christmas Eve, Sunday, December 24, 2006.
Copyright © 2006 the Tapestry Church
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