The other day a friend posted a picture on Facebook of three very special ornaments. She had purchased them for her three oldest children when they were much younger. As we began decorating our home for Christmas today, her picture came to mind triggering so many memories and recollections of Christmas’ past.
When I was a small child, my mother had homemade everything around our house during the Christmas season. Homemade evergreen wreaths, homemade cookies by the tens of dozens, and homemade crafts that would be used as gifts for friends. The homemade theme got passed on to us as we made our own ornaments for our family tree. It is such a treasure to still have a handful of these ornaments adorning my family’s tree this year.
As a child, one of our greatest Christmas traditions was a small yet cherished gift from my mom. She loved to paint ceramics. Over the years she made many things, but our most loved were the Christmas ornaments she would make for us each year. After her death when I was still a child, the value of these ornaments with our name and the year painted on the back in her handwriting became that much more special. As we decorated our tree this evening, a tear came to my eye as I came across the very last ornament she made for me. I received it on Christmas Day 1980; her very last day at home with us. I have no idea what her thought was when she selected that ornament, but it seemed to hold extra meaning as I realized that it was a lantern with a candle burning inside. My thoughts go to how many times she was the light that guided me and how her light was our Savior Jesus Christ.
Fast forward 13 years and I found myself a newlywed on the mission field with my new husband. What fond memories we have of our first Christmas in Alaska. So many miles away from family. In hindsight it was such a time of binding our hearts together in preparing us for all that was ahead. We shared some laughter over our little Charlie Brown tree we cut down in the woods and dragged all the way home in almost 4 feet of snow. Christmas decorations were just not something we had yet in our young married life. So we spent our evenings making decorations. We still have a couple of the turtle doves we made out of file folders and aluminum foil.
Family traditions can only become a legacy if we are faithful to pass them on to our children and grandchildren after them. Although I have not been as faithful as my mother, I have tried to make ornaments for each of my children as a special gift to find in their Christmas stockings on Christmas morn. Like my brothers and I, they are so excited to unwrap them to see which ornament I picked out especially for them and then proudly hang them on the tree.
What are your family’s traditions? Do they carry a message of hope, faith, and love to hold your family together from one generation to the next? May we challenge you to seeing more into this holiday than Black Friday sales, Christmas bonuses from work, or the new dress to wear to Christmas Eve services.
May you each have a blessed and Christ-filled Christmas season from our home to yours.