In my mind I always imagine events taking place and them being magical and like something out of a movie or Martha Stewart’s kitchen. Scenes play out in my head of everyone sitting around in a living room sipping peppermint hot chocolate. There is a large fire burning and christmas music playing in the background. We are telling stories about Christmas’ past and after we’ve laughed until we’ve cried we sit around and sing Christmas carols like Silent Night and Do You Hear What I Hear?
In my fantastical creation of events, everyone is happy and getting along blissfully. Everyone is gathered close together some people are arm in arm. Cheeks are nice and rosy and comfy and cosy are we. There is a large tray of homemade chocolate chip pecan cookies on the table. It is snowing outside and soon Santa will come and deliver presents after we read about Jesus and his birth.
The problem with having such a vivid depiction of events coursing through your head is that you are sure to be let down. In reality everyone is sitting around after having over eaten. Gifts are unwrapped and then there is a big mess to clean up. Everyone wants to hang out and talk and spend time together, but you are all so miserable that really all you want to do is get home and slip into a bottle of mylanta and a pair of pants with an elastic waistband. The idea of game playing is presented but no one will take the effort to set it up.
No one knows the words to Christmas Carols and there isn’t a fireplace for roasting chestnuts, for Santa to slide down or for the simple purpose of burning wood. It’s Texas and so it isn’t snowing outside. The dream of a white Christmas is merely that – a dream.
There is no reading of the Christmas story. We do not look like a Norman Rockwell painting, Martha Stewart is not in our kitchen and Oprah will not do a special on our Family’s Christmas Tradition. However, and surprisingly enough, we have everything we need at Christmas. We have Jesus and we have each other and we have packages and packages of love.
Our family has never been very traditional. We’ve often times gone without a Christmas tree or presents. My parents have always favored giving over receiving. When I look back I don’t remember any Christmas where I got so many toys that I didn’t know where to put them all. I don’t recall any special traditions on that one special day, but I do remember giving not just at Christmas time but all throughout the year. The true spirit of Christmas is indeed about giving. God gave his only son so that we could live forever. A savior is born. Tidings of comfort and joy and all that. We celebrate his birth once a year, but for Christians we celebrate his love every single day. For us, every day is Christmas because we have the gift of eternal life.
My parents aren’t very traditional, but the one thing that has been a constant theme in their lives is giving. And giving not just to their own family but to many families.
When I have my own family I plan to start some of my own traditions, but I plan to keep my parents’ tradition of always giving more than they receive.