Friday, December 9, 2011

Counting Down the Days . . .

2 Thessalonians 2:15
So, then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.

Christmas is a season jam-packed with tradition!

And, we who celebrate Jesus' birth more than likely share many of these is common.

Decorating the Christmas tree. Arranging the Nativity scene. Hanging stockings. Placing a wreath on our front door. Opening presents. Attending church.

But, as every family is unique, even these traditions can vary greatly.

Real tree, or artificial? Do we set the entire Nativity scene up at once, or do we hold back the baby Jesus until Christmas Day and the Wise Men until Epiphany? Embroidered stockings, or white-trimmed, red felt? A wreath adorned with lights and ornaments, or just a large, satin bow? Opening gifts on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? Attending the Christmas Eve service, or going to church on Christmas morning?

No matter how we observe this special season, keeping our traditions enhances our experience in the here and now, and can be passed down to the generations who follow us.

I like that thought . . .

My favorite tradition was, and still is, the advent calendar.

Every year while I am growing up, my grandmother sends us the most enchanting and magical calendars, bound to stir and excite the imagination of any child.

My brother and I are no exception.

We take turns opening a door or window each day. We hold the calendar to the light so the star or the trumpet or the teddy-bear or candy canes shine more brightly.

And, how we do get excited about Christmas!

I carry this treasured tradition on with my own children. Instead of a paper Advent calendar, however, I invest in one which I hope will be permanent.

It lasts about twenty years . . .

The doors are raggedy and some hang only by threads. I still love it, though, and don't want to part with it.

But, when a piece finally goes missing, I give up.

And, order a new Advent calendar (pictured above).

This time, made of thick, durable cloth and generous pockets to house the Nativity figures until it is their turn to appear in Bethlehem.

And, perfect to hand down to my granddaughter, Virginia Rose, when she is old enough.

To carry on the family tradition.

Counting the days until the coming of the Lord . . .
What is your favorite Christmas tradition?

Will you pray with me?
Father, we thank you for family and for the traditions each generation passes to the next. As we practice old customs which bring us comfort and joy, help us, too, to be open to creating new an meaningful ways to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Amen.

Psalms 31 or 35
Isaiah 7:10-25
2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:5
Luke 22:14-30


  1. Martha,we don't do Christmas in the traditional way...but ever since my daughter grew up,she started decorating a tree every has become a ritual now..something we look forward to.

  2. Family traditions are so important, Martha..It's what binds the family together ever more!

  3. Hi, Alpana and Corinne - thanks so much for stopping by today. :)
    @Alpana - I'm glad your family looks forward to decorating and enjoying a Christmas tree. Ours is finally up, but not fully decorated yet. Ooops!
    @Corinne - Traditions DO bring families together, I so agree! The ties that bind . . .

    Blessings to you both!

  4. My family Christmas tradition was going to church on christmas day, and enjoying the rest of the day partying. Now my kids have added their own tradition to it....each one wanting a particular Advent Calender, every year is something new, this year it's Playmobil and Cars and the good old Advent Calenda made of thick cloths with pockets :)

  5. I would love to see one of those advent calendars. Like Alpana said we dont do Christmas but reading your posts really infuses me with the spirit of Christmas Martha

  6. i love advent calendars! lovely tradition -- especially for children ;-)

    now, that i'm empty-nesting and building a life with my 'new' sweetheart (3 years) i find myself opening my mind and heart to new traditions.

    i don't know what the holidays will look like this year and i'm curious to see!

  7. Thank you, Luchi, Rimly, and Linda, for stopping by today!
    @Luchi - Christmas Day church is a wonderful tradition! I love it! And, I love that the children want their own Advent Calendars; such a fun way to count the days. Yes, I love the cloth calendars to best. :)
    @Rimly - I thought about trying to find images of these old fashioned Advent calendars on Google; just didn't get around to it. Think I will now! I'm glad you are infused with the spirit of the season, my friend! :)
    @Linda - New traditions are good, too, as they create special memories with our "new person". When Danny and I got married, he was used to Christmas Eve gift opening and I had always favored Christmas morning. I decided to go with his program and, as a result, have had a much more restful, reflective Christmas Day each year.

    Blessings, and thanks again, to you all!

  8. I am happy for all those who have traditions that are past down from one generation to the next. What I learned from personal experience, as well as from the experience from friends, is that the core of these traditions starts with the willingness of families to gather together during the holidays. And sadly it is common that the tradition of family gathering together can dissolve when a matriarch or patriarch pass away leaving one or more family leaders who cannot seem to find the time to make the traditional gathering happen. But if you open your home and your heart to family and friends alike, new gatherings begin to form and once again, your heart begins to swell with the excitement of the traditions of the holidays.


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