While keeping Jesus as the Reason for the Season, our family has several traditions that make the season bright. The most important tradition is being together. As we gather Christmas Day at my sister's house, Gramps (pictured above) will be with us only in spirit. He died August 2008 after 85 wonderful years. However, his "Bah Humbug" hat, ever present atop his head during the holidays, is now atop Mom's Christmas tree. I think Gramps would like that!
A second tradition is driving to Cane Creek Baptist Church the Sunday before Christmas and hearing their 12-person choir sing a cantata. My sister is the soprano soloist and hit a high B-flat as her concluding note. Wow! I marvel every year at how magnificent they sound, their voices blending and filling the worship center, and how moved I am by the words and music. This morning's cantata was "Only Love" ... only love would motivate a King to leave His throne, and take on poverty and suffering and death so that His people might live. That's our awesome God! That's how much He loves us. Thanks be to God!
One final tradition, albeit only 3 years old, is a white elephant gift exchange. Rather than all of us buying gifts for each other -- we already have so much! -- we buy one $15 item. After Christmas brunch, we put all the gifts in the center of our circle and do the draw-a-number-open-a-new-gift-or-steal-someone-else's-gift thing. We use the money we would have spent on each other to do something for someone. This year, I am going to buy one goat and two chickens for a family in a third world country. (For more info on how to do this, visit worldvision.org) How neat is that.
photo from WorldVision.org