Tonight we’ll go to Christmas Eve service at church then come home to open one gift before we get the plate of cookies and carrots ready for Santa’s arrival. It’s a tradition in our family that the kids get to choose one gift to open the night before Christmas.
This tradition started in 1998 when our area suffered a devastating ice storm during the holidays and thousands were without power. We were camped out in our living room where the propane fireplace fought off the cold that had invaded the rest of the house. Mark’s camping stove warmed up cans of soup and other provisions for our meals.
Autumn was 22 months old then. It was difficult to keep her occupied while trapped in one room of the house, so we allowed her to open a present. There were already quite a few to choose from that had been arriving in the recent mail deliveries from my family in other states.
I’m not sure at this point, 14 years later, why we continued every year to open a present the night before Christmas, but it has become customary in our family.
Every year there are new experiences. This year Colton played Linus in “A Charlie Brown’s Christmas” and did an incredible job reciting the Christmas story. Autumn portrayed Mary in the Living Nativity. I went shopping with 30 teens from the youth group. Every day there is another exciting event to help celebrate the season. Maybe one or all will also become traditions that we enjoy every year.
The day after Christmas is another one in the Barrick house. We have a pajama day. Our Christmas Day is usually fairly hectic. As soon as we open gifts at home, we head to Mark’s brother’s house for breakfast. By noon we’ll be at his mom’s house to spend the rest of the day with everyone, opening more gifts and eating a blessedly generous meal. By the end of the day, we’re content and thankful, but we’re also ready for some time at our own house, so the next day we stay in our pajamas, watch new movies, and have a pizza carpet picnic at lunchtime.
Traditions are wonderful threads that hold families together. The only fear is we get so wrapped up in the traditions that we forget the real reason for the season. I pray everyone who reads this is blessed by their time with families and friends. Enjoy your traditions but remember to tell Jesus “Happy Birthday” sometime during the day.
What traditions do you share in your family? I’d love to hear about them in a comment.