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Psalm 78
. . . we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. .
so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Traditions

Last year I posted a bit about our Advent traditions here.

I was thinking the other day that we don't seem to have many Christmas traditions, but then it hit me that the habits we have around Christmas will probably be fondly remembered by our kids as "tradition."
  • Daddy's working. Because Mr. Edwards serves at Christmas Eve services held on the 23rd and 24th, we usually attend one with him and then spend those evenings at home without him. Also, he works in a job that requires coverage 365 days a year, so he usually carries on his usual work schedule over Christmas break. If Christmas doesn't fall on his regular day off, he works.
  • Edwards Christmas. We celebrate Christmas with Edwards family relatives (usually) a few days before Christmas with an evening dinner and gift exchange. At these dinners one of the Mr. Edwards (my husband or his dad or his brother) read Luke 2 before we open gifts. Another Edwards family habit: listening to Hudson & Landry's comedy routine, "Frontier Christmas." (Listen to "Frontier Christmas" on YouTube. Pure silliness here; if you worry about political correctness, you may want to skip it!)
  • On the Screen. We generally watch the Christmas movies "White Christmas", The Royal Ballet's "The Nutcracker", "Miracle on 34th Street", "It's a Wonderful Life", and "Holiday Inn" during the month of December. 
  • On the Stereo. We listen to our favorite Christmas music almost non-stop in the month of December. Christmas music from Michael W. Smith, Bing Crosby, Johnny Mathis, Burl Ives and others are on our playlist. We also listen to Handel's Messiah--the whole thing, not just the Hallelujah Chorus. 
  • The Edwards and Santa. Our kids leave a plate of cookies and a glass of milk on the mantel for Santa and eagerly awake in the morning to discover what is in their stockings. Our approach to Santa is influenced by Tapestry of Grace, C.S. Lewis and the Jackson Five ("I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus"). We studied Greek mythology with Tapestry of Grace Year 1 when our oldest were in kindergarten. Through that study we learned the meaning of "myth", so it naturally followed that when we learned about the man known as St. Nicholas we explained to the kids all the mythology that has grown up around the obscure truth of St. Nicholas himself. In this, my kids happily accepted the tradition and fun of Santa and knowing (here's where the Jackson Five come into it) that Daddy is our Santa. Mr. Edwards and I felt uncomfortable upholding a deception of Santa (I know, some of you find that harsh) but don't find any harm in enjoying as a family the myth. It is fun to find elements of the True Myth (as Lewis famously calls Christianity) in the myth of Santa. Santa's omniscience ("He knows when you are sleeping/He knows when you're awake...") reminds us that only God is omniscient. His omnipresence reminds us that only God is omnipresent. His generosity in giving gifts remind us of the Gift given by God at Christmas--His Son Jesus Christ. 
  • Christmas Day. We spend Christmas Day at my parents' home with my sister's family, my aunt and uncle, and Mr. Edwards' parents. We relax, open gifts, enjoy a big Christmas dinner, and read from the Bible about Christ's birth. Mr. Edwards joins us as soon as he can get off work.

In Luke 2:29-32 Simeon praises God after seeing baby Jesus:
"Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel."

May His light reveal to you the One who is Righteous and True and may you see His salvation this Christmas!


mom24 said...

Just wanted to say that I don't think it's harsh to decide NOT to celebrate Santa at Christmastime. You've taught them well while holding to the Truth - Who is in fact the reason for Christmas.
In our house we have not taught about Santa at all since our opinion is that we don't want to obscure the Truth in our children's vivid imaginations. It's hard for them (especially when so very young) to understand the difference between 2 people who can't be seen or touched - which one then is real?
The truth of Jesus must always come before the culture of this world and you've made a good choice for your kids!

Mrs. Edwards said...

I agree! Skipping Santa isn't harsh. I actually meant that some people probably find it harsh that I call believing in Santa "deception." I think you're right, it can be very confusing for kids when adults pretend that the whole thing is completely real. We try to have fun with the myth without ever insisting that it is real.

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