Traditions can get lost or ignored in the fury and flurry of events that surround Christmas. Yet, it is so important that we make and keep traditions.
Traditions serve as powerful recollections that bind a family together during good and bad times. For example, think about some holiday traditions you participated in as a child and what those memories mean to you today.
Traditions are also meaningful, even when simple. Done in the spirit of love, traditions allow families to pass down faith rituals and customs through the generations. A sense of legacy builds with each generation that continues to celebrate the tradition.
When our children were very young, we always attended the Christmas Eve service at our church. Near the end of the service, the lights were lowered as young women in white robes carried candles up the side aisle to the solo of "Silent Night." To me, there was nothing more emotionally stirring than the congregation’s voices joining in on the last verse.
Following the service, we always took a car tour of a local neighborhood “Toyland.” Lit with a spot light, each house proudly displayed on its front lawn a large cut-out of some nursery rhyme figure, like Raggedy Ann and Andy or Humpty Dumpty. So simple, yet so sweet, and nothing like the Vegas-style Christmas light decorating of today.
The last three years, my husband and I have adopted a new tradition, which is to attend the Christmas concert held in the chapel of our local Catholic University here in Bismarck, just a few miles from our home.
The drive there on a frosty December night is always a beautiful one, as the University of Mary sits atop a hill overlooking the twinkling lights of the city. This year driving over, a bright moon was smudged beneath a milky cloud bank and the night breeze blew softly through the Ponderosa pines.
We walked into a chapel decorated with poinsettias and deep red and gold banners under tulle and twinkling lights. A 100-member choir entered in procession, with the men taking the risers and the women, in long dark dresses with pearls at their throats, singing and moving slowly up the side aisles. Many of the songs sung were done without accompaniment.
Half way through the concert, the Gabriele Brass Ensemble came out, lining the side aisle and the front of the chapel to play the Giovanni Gabrieli's majestic piece, “Canzon Quarti Toni.” It was truly beautiful and breathtaking. Near the end of the concert, we all stood to sing verses of "O Come, All Ye Faithful," men and women taking turns on verses and finishing together. The concert concluded with the full choir singing G.F. Handel’s “And the Glory of the Lord” from The Messiah.
This concert is always so full of beauty, reminding us of the reason we celebrate -- the greatest gift, our dear Lord Jesus Christ!
In the end, it’s not about the number of traditions you have. Pick something, make it work for your family, and you will have established a tradition that will be a meaningful memory for generations to come.
Do you recognize the value of making time to honor family traditions? What old traditions do you practice? What new traditions have you adopted?