Christmas babies are a blessing. Both of my children were supposed to be born in January but came in December. My daughter was almost three weeks premature. We were struggling financially that year. I remember we couldn’t even afford a Christmas tree so we went out in the woods to cut a tree down. Her birth was a miracle and made Christmas time especially meaningful when we would have otherwise been quite discouraged. Four years later our son came at another crucial time in life for us. My husband had lost his father that spring. He was training as an apprentice in real estate appraising after having been laid off from a government job. Again, we were quite down and discouraged. When our son was born, God gave us new hope and enthusiasm for life. My husband got his first big paycheck in the mail as an independent contractor while I was in the hospital with our son. Our financial state began to improve on the day he was born.
Our children sometimes woe the fact that they were Christmas babies because the celebrations for their birthdays are downplayed during that time of year. I have tried my best to make their birthdays special. I began the tradition of putting up two trees in our home. One is our Christmas tree where we gather Christmas gifts for each other. We call the other our birthday tree under which we place birthday gifts for our children. We have had birthday parties of all sorts for the children over the years. When they were little we had scavenger hunts, sleepovers, gone shopping in the mall, had skating parties, craft making parties, parties at Celebration Station and a bowling party. We had themes from Little Mermaid, Lion King, Toy Story, G.I Joe, Barbie and Pirates of the Carribean.
It may be hard to have a birthday around Christmas time but I always tell my children that apart from Jesus they were the best Christmas presents that the Lord ever gave me.
There are many traditions that we partake in during the Christmas season. We may not always know why we include them in our festivities. I have begun making a conscious effort in my home to continue traditions that have the most meaning and are symbolic of my Christian faith. I want to share with you a few of those meaningful traditions.
The use of candles represent the star of Bethlehem or may have been used during Advent to symbolize Jesus as the light of the world.
Candy canes are shaped like a “J” to represent the name of Jesus or the shepherd’s hook. White represents the purity of Christ and red stripes are for his blood that was shed on the cross for our sins.
Chrismons are symbols of Christ. They are typically decorations on Christmas trees in churches. They are meant to remind us that we are celebrating Jesus’ birthday. They usually are either white or gold. Some examples of the chrismon symbols include crosses which symbolize his death on the cross, stars which symbolize the star of Bethlehem, crowns which symbolize that Jesus is King, keys which symbolize that He has given us the keys to the kingdom and we are to share the good news with the world, angels who told the shepherds of Jesus’ birth, or hearts which symbolize that God is love.
The decorations on my Christmas tree contain some of these symbols.
As I am putting out Christmas decorations, I always put my manger scene in a prominent place. It sits on top of a bookcase in my living room where all can see it. It reminds us all to slow down and keep the focus on why we celebrate the season. I began the collection of the nativity figures many years ago when my children were little. My motive was to de-emphasize Santa Claus and emphasize Jesus instead.
Growing up we always had a lighted manger scene in our front yard. The figures were all white. One year we came home to our decorated home and found a white cat sitting beside the manger in wonderment. He blended in perfectly with the rest of the white figures. We always said that he must have come to worship baby Jesus.
My table was decorated this year with burlap, acorns and feathers. It came together gradually. I got the burlap and natural materials first then thought of the feathers at the last minute.
Some of the dishes included my sister-in-law’s fabulous macaroni and cheese and brussel sprouts. I made a different stuffing this year with apples, dried cranberries and sausage. It came out pretty well. I think I will have it again next year.
Here is a picture of my mother’s delicious and famous brown sugar pie. We ask her to make it every year. It is always eaten up first even though there are other selections including pumpkin and pecan pie.
I am thankful to have spent another Thanksgiving with my wonderful family. There are fewer of us as years go by. It was good to have my mother, my brother, his wife, my niece, my nephew, my sister-in-law, my son and my daughter all at the house with my husband and me. We don’t see each other often throughout the year so it is special when we can all be together. I love you all so very much.
We spend so much time preparing the table, decorations and food. In no time, we are cleaning it all up and saying good-bye to our guests. I am learning with each passing year to savor the time together more. In this way we can enjoy what matters most and not sweat the small stuff.
As I was running errands this past week, I noticed several Salvation Army bellringers stationed at different locations in my town. There was one in front of the grocery store on the most frigid day that we have had around here in quite some time. She was bundled up in multiple layers of clothing. I was grumpily complaining to myself that I could not find a parking spot closer to the store. I dashed from my car towards the store and passed her near the store’s entrance. I felt rather convicted that I was more concerned about my own comfort than helping others. I dug into my purse for some coins to relieve my guilt.
Later in the week I came across another bellringer in front of our local Hobby Lobby store. It was another cold day and I was greeted again by a volunteer with the most pleasant disposition. She was also layered from head to toe to provide her with some warmth for the many hours that she would have to stand there. I contemplated how someone could have such a courteous and unselfish attitude despite the personal discomfort she must have felt.
As I was leaving the store, she was still standing there. She passed along a blessing as I put some loose change in her bucket. As I got in my car, I looked back at her. She never stopped smiling or ringing her bell and even began singing. She seemed happier than any shopper that I had come across throughout the day. Perhaps she had a secret that many don’t know. I am sure she closely knew her Savior.
We are truly more blessed through giving to others than we are in getting for ourselves. It was a timely reminder around Thanksgiving to be thankful to God for all the many ways He has blessed us and be mindful of others who are less fortunate.
I am a wife, a mother, a daughter and a sister. I am a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. I find happiness through caring for my family. They are my greatest gift in life. I also enjoy helping others who the Lord sends along my path. I have had ups and downs but through it all God has shown me that the greatest way to find joy on earth is through blessing others. With any gifts that He has given me, it is truly through giving those gifts away that I am fulfilled.