It has been a really busy year for my family. Particularly with aging parents dealing with various sicknesses and being in the throes of raising 2 teens and a tween. In our busyness, gift shopping has started late and so has decorating and honestly my heart has not been open to the Christmas season until today.
There are 4 traditions that I really keep – maybe it is more fair to say, that I really try to keep. I am not sure why but they are part of Christmas for me. It helps me slow down from the craziness of life and think about Jesus’ coming to earth – Holy Son of God – no fan fair, no news telecast – just a humble feeding trough – the Savior is born.
Christmas lights, as I remember it, were put up on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. While it may not have always ended well when I was growing up, it is still something I still enjoy doing and often enjoy it more when I do it alone; as it allows me to think more about the coming season, life and where things are with my heart – I enjoy having help too, it’s just different. This year we are bit more humble than normal 🙂 To me Christmas lights are a symbol of light in darkness – of which God pulled me out.
The Christmas Cactus
My Christmas cactus is blooming – one of greatest things I look forward to. I place it in our sunroom (it’s really not as glamorous as it sounds) in October so that it gets the proper (low) amount of light so that it will bloom. It was given to me by my mother as a very large plant. I nearly killed it a few years ago, as I had forgotten to water it during one of its stints in the sunroom. All I had recovered were 2 little sections of the plant – I rooted it and this is the result. It is a sign of the patience and growth that occurs in times of trial.
The Wise Men Cards
My mom had a tradition where she hung a wise men card above our door for ‘good luck’. The Irish tradition says it is for good luck and the Catholic tradition says, ‘the Lord bless this house’. I have modified this tradition and its meaning. I hang every wise men card I get over our door – to me it is a symbol of my desire to have the kind of faith that spans miles and the difficulties of life to know Christ and to be known of Him. Secondly, I do not take them down until I receive another one on some subsequent Christmas. The cards to the right are from 2012 – which means I did not receive any wise men cards in 2013 – they have come down today as I have received one this year. This represents hope and steadfastness – new ones will one day come; it’s only a matter of time. I am always glad to receive a new wise men card, but there is a sense of sadness as the old ones that kept my living room company for a year or so come down – I read them and pray for those that sent them and then retire them to the recycling bin.
The Shortest Day
While Autumn is my most favorite time of the year, I do not look forward to the days getting shorter – rising before sunup and getting home after dark. The shortest day of the year is the first day of Winter; it is said that December 25th is the first day that one can distinguish that the days are getting longer. This makes me feel glad and grateful – glad that the darkness is ending and grateful for greater light in my life.
As I re-read this I am struck by the seemingly melancholy sentiment expressed; however, it is truly about hope and expectation which is what Christmas is all about. Have a Blessed and Merry Christmas!