By L.A. Kohl
December 10, 2005
(published in the Decemeber 14, 2005 edition of "The Bullseye")
The word “tradition” conjures up various thoughts within my mind, but at Christmas time, traditions are akin to the “warm fuzzies” for me. Some are trivial, often related to things like food. Others help us to pass on our spiritual heritage to the next generation. I hope for the sake of your children, your family has tried to carry on some time-honored holiday traditions, as well as to begin some of your own.
My husband has fond memories of going to his Grandma Kohl’s on Christmas Eve and having chili and oyster stew. I’m not sure how oysters worked their way into the Christmas celebration, but I think they’ve been there for years and years. I remember when reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder books to my girls when they were little; being surprised to see that even during the 1800’s oysters were a treat that people expected to enjoy during the Christmas season. Thus, every Christmas Eve, we cook up a little pot of oyster stew.
I personally remember going to Grandma Cox’s on Christmas Eve, where we would sometimes roast hot dogs and marshmallows in their fireplace, eat some snacks, and sit around sipping on Grandma’s wonderful spiced tea. It’s hard to beat hot spice tea and a blazing fire. When we got back home, my brother and I were allowed to open one present each – a tradition we’ve continued with our own children.
We have a few “new” traditions that our children look forward to each Christmas. One is getting out their personal box of ornaments and hanging each one on the tree. We give them a new ornament each Christmas – so we now have to set up a separate tree just for all of their ornaments! But they thoroughly enjoy pulling each ornament out of their box each year; trying to remember when they got it and who gave it to them.
We also enjoy reading Christmas stories together as a family during the weeks leading up to Christmas. Some are simply cute and sweet – the kind that make you sit back with a smile and go, “Ahhh…” Others are deeply moving and contain great spiritual lessons; often leaving one or more of us a little teary-eyed. Either way, it’s a heart-warming way to end the day before sending the kids off to bed.
Many years ago, we started going caroling on Christmas Eve (or as close to it as possible) and delivering goodies. The last several years it’s mostly been to our neighbors, but some years we go to a widow’s home. Our children look forward to it each year…and I understand that some of our neighbors have come to anticipate it as well! It’s fun to spread a little “Christmas cheer," and since the children help in making the cookies, candies and/or bread that we deliver, it helps to teach them that a lot of the joy in Christmas is in giving, and not just receiving.
We even have a tradition associated with our Nativity scene. It’s a fragile, ceramic Nativity set; thus, each piece is individually wrapped in tissues, hiding their identity. The children think it is great fun to take turns choosing one wrapped figurine, and then unwrapping it to see which one they picked. Of course, baby Jesus is the most coveted one – it’s always been fun to watch their faces light up with excitement when they unwrap Him and exclaim, “I got baby Jesus this year!”
There are others, but those are some of our fondest. I hope your family has many of your own traditions; but mostly I hope that at least some of your traditions, like our little nativity scene ritual, celebrate the excitement over finding the greatest Christmas gift ever given…Jesus Christ.