From now until Christmas, Thursdays will be devoted to participating in “Celebrating Holidays at the Cafe.”  If you are a blogging kind of woman, come on in and join us!  This week, we are talking about our holiday traditions.

One of the first “traditions” that my family observes every holiday season is to participate in the madness that is Black Friday.  I realize that this doesn’t have one single thing to do with Christ’s birth, but it is an annual ritual of which we do partake.

My mother instituted this particular tradition many years ago when I was too young to be able to say whether or not I wanted to attend.  As an adult, I leave armed with a shopping list, determined to mark as many gifts off the list as is humanly possible in the time that we spend at the mall.  I think that shopping over the Internet is the most wonderful invention ever, but if I am going to the mall on the craziest shopping day of the year, I want to make the trip worth it.

Because my husband is in the ministry and this is only our second year at our current church, we don’t yet have a lot of Christmas traditions here.  I hope that, over time, we will find church-wide and city-wide events that become meaningful traditions to us.

One of the traditions that we enjoyed, and still miss, from our previous church – New Salem Baptist Church in Cox’s Creek, KY – is Christmas caroling.  Not many experiences bond together a group of fellow church members like standing in the cold, the rain, the snow and singing Christmas carols outside someone’s home!  I can remember caroling to an Alzheimer’s patient who, although she no longer recognized any of us, could remember all of the words to “Joy to the World.”  I remember one dear lady who, although confined to a wheel chair, when shaking your hand would squeeze the rings right off your fingers.  I remember one family’s homemade fudge candy!

This year, I am so excited that our Sunday School class at Yellow Creek Baptist Church has decided to go Christmas caroling on the night we have our class party.  Woo-hoo!  It’s going to be a blast!

The Christmas Eve service at New Salem was also a wonderful tradition for us.  We would read the Scriptures about the birth of Jesus, light advent candles, sing carols, and partake of the Lord’s Supper.  I always closed the evening by playing a special arrangement of “Silent Night” on the piano as we lit candles around the sanctuary.

My extended family has an annual tradition of Christmas Eve dinner.  I get to see cousins who I don’t see any other time of the year.  My mother’s cousin always makes the turkey and dressing.  Last year I had the privilege of making the peanut butter balls for the first time … and of hearing my cousin’s husband remarking how good they were!

T. and I always manage to get off by ourselves, just like we did when we were little girls.  We were the only girls among a bunch of boys, so finding our own little corner to play in was a precious thing.

In our segmented society, traditions are difficult to maintain.  With people rarely staying in one town for their entire lives, we have to develop new traditions to accommodate our changing society.  Some traditions need to be evaluated, and possibly even discarded, because they no longer serve a purpose, or because the purpose they did serve is no longer meaningful.

But that’s not to say we shouldn’t try to maintain some traditions, particularly at this time of the year.  Maybe we could use some “rules of thumb” for evaluating what we keep and what we discard:

1) Do our traditions proclaim the message of Christ to our friends and family members?

2) Do our traditions still serve a purpose?

3) What are we passing on through our traditions?

4) Do we keep our traditions for God’s glory, or for our own?

As you create meaningful traditions for your own families, consider that a legacy of loving and serving God is the most important tradition that you can leave behind.  Merry Christmas!