Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Holiday Traditions

It's upon us: Thanksgiving and Christmas have arrived. No longer do the stores wait until the morning of the day after Thanksgiving to start their Christmas sales barrage. Now we can get "Black Friday sales" every day. Isn't that awesome? The best part is we don't even have to leave the cozy comfort of our favorite recliner to get these breathtaking deals. The retail world is more than happy to accept our credit cards over a secure server in order to bring the store to our front door! The days of running to a nearby convenience store on Christmas Eve for those last-minute gifts is so passé. Now guys can shop online during commercials or -- if they want to get all their Christmas shopping done -- can take care of it during halftime. What a brave new world we live in!

When I think about it, it's probably even archaic to refer to the upcoming days as "Thanksgiving" and "Christmas." It seems more correct to refer to this time of the year as the "holiday season," so as not to offend any with the word: "Christmas." But forsooth, I digress. For the purpose of this brief missive, let's agree that "holiday season" refers to the weeks from Thanksgiving to Christmas -- with a few days tossed in after Christmas for good measure.

So, what holiday traditions do you celebrate? Does the family gather at grandma's house for turkey, dressing, and mincemeat pie on Thanksgiving? Does your family have other chosen foods and time-honored festivities planned for this special day of thanks? After the feast, do the kids go outside and toss a football around, while the adults slowly drop like flies, surrendering to tryptophan-induced comas? Do the board games come out of the closet? And what about Friday, the day after? Is everybody off to the mall to cash in on the bargains?

What about Christmas? Do you have a real tree, an artificial one, or is the picture of the tree on the calendar good enough? Do you open presents Christmas Eve, Christmas morning, or whenever you see one with your name on it? Will a visit from St. Nick be a part of the tradition? Will he find cookies and milk waiting for him when he hauls in his cache of presents for family members -- every one of whom, remarkably, has been very good this year? Will there be events outside of the home that take place during Christmas? Will caroling, a bonfire in the country, or a family visit to a nursing home, homeless shelter, or hospice house be part of your plans?

Guys, traditions play an important part in our families. I remember fondly my Dad's role as "turkey carver," and I will always remember when that baton was passed to me. I remember the kids in their PJs waking us up Christmas morning to open up presents. I remember the warm glow and smell of candles on Christmas Eve. Growing up, my family's traditions grounded me and I looked forward to Christmas unlike any other time of the year. These fun and familiar routines let me know there was a constant in the world. Even when I was out in the deep end for a while, the traditions of Thanksgiving and Christmas wrapped their arms around me and tugged at my heart. In the end, they made a huge difference in my perspective.

Gents, I would suggest you continue or start two traditions this year. At Thanksgiving have each member of the family share (aloud) a blessing he or she is thankful for, and at Christmas gather the family together and read the Christmas story (aloud) from Luke 2.

You might just find this year's "holiday season" takes on a whole new meaning.

If it does, drop us a line and tell us your story. You can be an inspiration to others.

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