We all have them. They are the things our parents and grandparents did when we were small, that we may still carry on today. I’d like to share one of mine with you.
My mom always had the house beautifully decorated for the holidays. I used to marvel at how patient she was hanging tinsel on each branch of the Christmas tree, a tradition she carried on from her mother. Our tradition was the white Christmas tree on the hearth of the fireplace. Decorated with red satin Christmas ball ornaments, the tree sat in the corner, giving the room a homey feeling. You would think that sounds odd. How could a white, artificial tree, be homey. But it was. It represented our family. Every year, without fail, the tree was found in its spot. As mom got older, she stopped decorating as much as she used to, eliminating the white tree, along with other things.
Lives get busy and emotions change and I found myself moving away from the traditions of my childhood, and creating new ones for my own family. But something was always missing. An empty space among all the decor. And I could never put my finger on it. Until now.
As most of you know, I left the wedding and event industry after 15 plus years to pursue a greater passion. In doing so, it has also given me the time to reflect on my life. What I did, what I am doing and what I have yet to accomplish. Have you ever taken the time to do this? Most of you will say no because you’re busy running out the door to get to your jobs, or your child’s soccer or baseball game or just running, in general. We all need to do this at some point in our lives. If we don’t, we will lose ourselves.
And so, as I prepared to decorate my own home, a task that had lost some of its luster over the years, I decided it was time to make a change. I simply stated to my husband that I wanted a white Christmas tree. I explained the sentiment behind it and he said “if that’s what you want, then do it”. And we did. I wanted my mom, who is up there in her years, to experience those days of long ago, once again. She has no idea we did this and I can’t wait to see her face when she comes in the house. We do not have a hearth to place the tree on but it does sit in the corner of the room, adding a warmth that I never imagined I could feel again.
It’s so important to have traditions within your family but even more important to carry them forward so that your children and their children will have these memories. It doesn’t have to be a holiday tradition. It could be as simple as flying a kite on the beach. It is whatever feels right in your heart.
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On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…..
Do you know when the first day of Christmas really is? In America, people believe the first day is December 14th and count up to Christmas. They’re wrong. Retailers looking to make their mark during the Christmas season will use these days to push sales, as Christmas Day ends their holiday marketing season. Actually, the twelve days of Christmas begin on Christmas Day, December 25th and continue through to January 5th, the Twelfth Night, and finally end on January 6th or the Feast of the Epiphany.
There was even a story about a priest who claimed the song was intended as a catechism song to help young Catholics learn their faith, at a time when practicing Catholicism was criminalized in England (1558 until 1829).1 This was later debunked.
For some, Twelfth Night remains the biggest night for parties and gift-giving. Some households exchange gifts on the first (25 December) and last (5 January) days of the season. As in olden days, Twelfth Night to Epiphany morning is then the traditional time to take down the Christmas tree and decorations.2 My mom calls January 6th “Little Christmas”.
Again we find that the United States has all but forgotten these traditions. We look at Christmas Day as a day of celebration, followed by planning for the next, New Year’s Day. It would appear the meaning of Christmas all but gets lost in the party planning of our time.
Different cultures celebrate this time with feasts or with fasts. There is no one way that is correct. Many still follow the ways of Eastern Christianity, siting the twelve days as a time for celebration, a no fasting period, followed by fasting on January 5th until the first star is seen in the night sky.
No matter how you celebrate this Christmas season, always remember the real meaning behind the celebration. We are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Not the birth of the latest ipad. Put Christ back in Christmas. The world needs Him.
Related stories: What Is Christmas Really About?
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