What can I say? I love traditions. (I should have been Jewish.) I adore meaningful ceremonies and deliberate, annual remembrances.
The Christmas season is especially ripe for tradition.
For example, growing up in the Reed home, we pulled out Harry Belefonte's Christmas album immediately after Thanksgiving.
Christmas Eve dinner was oyster stew for the family (YUCK!) and Campbell's Chunky Sirloin Burger for the picky redhead (that would be me).
"That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown." The Word from Linus every year....
One present could be opened on Christmas Eve. Only one.
Almond crescent cookies dusted with powdered sugar.
Homemade bon bons.
Fudge by Mary (I had the "fudge touch").
We usually had an orange in our stocking. (Whose idea was THAT?!)
Marriage was an eye-opener for this North-meets-South couple when our Christmas traditions butted heads.
I mean, really, how could anyone find the Charlie Daniels Band superior to Harry Belefonte? Every time Mike played "Christmastime Down South" I envisioned goats in the front yard and a washing machine on the front porch. (Time for our Christmas moonshine, Gertie!)
Forgive me, I hadn't yet lived in the South....
Needless to say, Christmas really tested our marital negotiation skills.
Over the course of our 19 years together, we've come up with our own set of "traditions."
Some were continuations of favorite childhood traditions:
A birthday cake for Jesus.
One present on Christmas Eve--now it's pajamas
Christmas Eve reading from Luke Chapter 2.
Some traditions were retired
(oyster stew and oranges)
Some just sort of evolved.
All the cousins sleeping over on Thanksgiving night. Then they all decorate the our house for Christmas the next day. (Free labor!)
Everyone gets socks and underwear as a gift--(Whose idea was THAT?!.... Oh, I think I get it now, Mother!)
"Elf" and eggnog. It's not really Christmas until you have watched "Elf."
My crazy husband getting up just before dawn, climbing up on the roof and trying (rather unsuccessfully) to create the effect of the "prancing and pawing of each tiny hoof."
However, it has occurred to me this season that most of our traditions are, in fact, accidental.
Don't get me wrong: each accidental tradition became an annual event because of a humorous or sentimental moment that made it special.
Special, but not so Biblical, I'm noticing.
This fact is particularly troubling because of the age of my children. With two in high school--one about to graduate-- I am painfully aware that my days of creating meaningful traditions are dwindling.
I still want Christmas to be a time of laughter, love and enjoyment--laughter is a big part of what being an Odell is all about!
However, in our laughter I don't want to lose sight of the wonder. I want some intentional traditions that focus us on the incomprehensible marvel that God became flesh and dwelt among us.
For this year, and as many years as I have left, I want to focus on doing what I can to have Christmas be a time of awe, a time of reflection, a time of considering the love the Father has for me.
If I am intentional, that means choosing deliberately. This year we are reading through Ann Voskamp's Jesse Tree Devotion to bring our minds daily to the wonder of Christ's coming.
It also means intentionally choosing to say no to some things that are good, but would create rush or stress. We can't go to every party, and we can't buy every present.
And that's okay.
"But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." Luke 2:19