These days, it seems many people are so bent on discovering and asserting their individual identities that they are quick to jettison ideas and practices associated with the past. They have no use for historic beliefs or “old-fashioned” thinking, and they see little point to community or family traditions.

Such a person is rather like the man who sits on a limb as he saws it off the tree. He sees no use for the trunk or the roots that anchor it – only for the branch on which he sits – and so he unwittingly cuts himself away from the very structure that supports him. Family, faith, and civic traditions foster a mindfulness of our place within a story bigger than ourselves and more enduring than our immediate experience.

A few of my family’s favorite traditions at Christmas include:

  • Hunting for the perfect tree and decorating it as we listen to Christmas music.
  • Making gifts for one another’s stockings.
  • Attending our church’s Christmas Eve service of lessons and carols, and then coming home to a dinner of split pea soup and cornbread.
  • Toasting the holiday with a glass of gluhwein, a warm wine spiced with cloves and cardamom.
  • An annual Christmas-break movie marathon to watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
  • Pepper cookies, truffles, homemade snack mix, pumpkin bread sandwiches, spiced tea…so many holiday foods!

I would love to hear from you, Dear Reader: what are some of your family’s Christmas traditions?

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