Growing up, our family enjoyed many holiday traditions. I remember being carried to the car at ten o’clock at night. My eyes would be heavy with sleep, yet the excitement of the event pushed me to wakefulness. I would rub my eyes and look at the lights, rushing by the window in a blur. If I was lucky, we would pass Christmas lights on homes and on the outside of businesses. It was magical!
Finally we would arrive at the church. Many people would already be there, milling about and speaking quietly to one another. There was a certain reverence in the air that I didn’t yet understand. The pews were decorated with fragrant greenery and candles glowed, throughout the sanctuary. Shiny red Poinsettias and white roses in ornate pots, draped generously over the entrance tables.
The organist played inspiring Christmas tunes, which reverberated into every heart. Few parents would bring their children to the midnight service and I felt incredibly special and grownup. The weather always seemed to allow for safe passage to this lovely church. The crowd grew thick and humid from the chorus of breathing and damp coats.
Once the service started, everyone stood and sang in unison. The songs were familiar to me: simple and beautiful tunes celebrating the birth of Jesus. The pastor spoke and the bell choir rang their bells. Tiny white candles were passed around to every adult. At the front of the church, the pastor lit a candle from the alter, and then lit the candles of the people in the first row. They, in turn, lit the candles of the people behind them. After all the candles were lit, the lights in the church were turned off. The whole room shimmered and glowed! Finally we all sang Silent Night together.
I might not have understood the intricacies or religious significance of the day, but I absorbed the joy of the whole experience. It stamped a love for tradition and religious ceremony into my mind and heart, forever. It gave me the deep desire to share similar experiences with my own children. I want to give them a sense of something bigger than themselves; larger than anything they can see with their eyes or wrap their minds completely around.
I encourage you to think about these things before baby comes home. What wondrous traditions are you going to share with your child? What memories are you going to store in their bank of childhood wonders? What do you want them to remember, when they are grown with children of their own?
If you have already become a parent, it is never too late to add yearly traditions to your family’s holiday season. It might be a midnight Christmas service or it might be getting to open one package on Christmas Eve. It could be reading the story of Jesus’ birth from the Bible. You might want to hike through the woods to chop down that perfect tree. What about baking a special family persimmon cake that has been handed down for generations?
Get creative with your spouse and come up with a game plan. We would love to have you share some of your ideas with us and each other. This time of year is the perfect opportunity to establish long standing family traditions and instill joyous memories in your children that will last a “Lifetime”.
By A. Olsen