By Michelle Ramsey
Being a wife, mother, full-time professional, author, blogger, ghost-writer, and so much more often leaves me running on fumes. This is especially true during the holiday season, as I’m usually the one hosting dinners for my family. Some years, the celebrations are small, and at other times they are large. But regardless of the turnout, there are some things that are essentially important for me to maintain: traditions.
Growing up as a child, my siblings and I often put up our Christmas tree in December and decorated it while our parents looked on. Every holiday season, my brothers and I watched the Peanuts Christmas, Rudolph, Frosty, and all the other fun Christmas cartoons that came on the weekend of Thanksgiving. Whether Thanksgiving or Christmas, my mother always cooked a big meal even though we would celebrate the holiday at another family member’s house. Those traditions have carried on with my own family with a slightly different twist.
I’m typically required to work a lot of overtime for my job. And my burgeoning career as a writer imposes several deadlines on me. However, time with my family during the holidays is most important.
On the Eve of every Thanksgiving, you will find me in the kitchen with my husband and daughter, cooking a large meal. He’s always in charge of the dressing, turkey, macaroni, and sweet potato pies. I’m always in charge of the ham, chess pies, veggies, other side dishes, and cakes. Our daughter has always been our sous chef, working alongside her father and me. She learns his recipes, and how to suggest different ways to put a new twist on old favorites. Without fail, my baby boy enters the kitchen to make a dessert dish, which usually consists of a brownie or cookie. And he always remains up late on Thanksgiving Eve with my husband to polish off a sweet potato pie or two, and at least one chess pie. My oldest son just waits to sample everything available.
Just as I decorated the tree with my siblings as a child, that tradition still holds true for my family. We decorate our Charlie Brown artificial tree downstairs in the family room on Thanksgiving every year. The day after Thanksgiving, we decorate the big, live tree my husband lugs upstairs into our living room. Instead of watching as my parents did, my husband and I are very involved in the process. This year, we decided to go the natural route for decorating and took on several DIY projects. From creating ornaments of pinecones, to a pinecone door hanger, you will see natural elements fashioned throughout our Christmas theme this year. Sticks, acorns, pinecones, and pine are interwoven in every facet of our home. From the live tree to our table décor, which showcases candles plunged into snow (Epsom salt).
When we finished, we stepped back and admired our handiwork, amazed at what you could do with a little ingenuity and items from your yard and around the home. Perhaps the greatest experience this has brought is just the closeness created and how well we worked together. It was a lot of fun and an amazing experience. We were all definitely pleased with our results. This year’s Christmas décor topped every other one we have created, where we spent tons of money to get the right look. From our simple ideas, we have created beautiful, breathtaking memories to last a lifetime.
During the Christmas season it is also tradition for just my daughter and me to escape to my living room on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings and watch Christmas movies. It does not matter if they’re new or old, we simply love Christmas movies. Some of my old favorites that I like to share with her are It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Carol, and of course A Christmas Story. She loves This Christmas, which is her all-time favorite.
Another tradition that is upheld is that my children participate in the annual Christmas program at our church. Ever since they were toddlers, my husband and I have always educated them on the true meaning of Christmas, and to always look for opportunities to bless someone else. It is our hope that they do not become so enamored with the expectations of the superficial, subliminal world that they forget to focus on our Redeemer. Through Scripture and lively discussions, we ensure they have a complete understanding.
Every Thanksgiving holiday differs for our extended family. Sometimes, my husband’s family can travel into town to participate with us, while other times we travel to celebrate with them. Still, other times may be spent with my family visiting our home, and other times they visit their in-laws. Last year in 2015, I decided that I wanted to have Christmas together with my siblings, our mother, and step-father. Because most of us have children, this was going to be a bit of a challenge. Most families want to wake up in their own homes on Christmas day, allowing their children to open their gifts at home. With that understanding I presented the idea that we could celebrate Christmas Eve together.
Last year was the first time that we celebrated, so it’s somewhat of a new tradition for us. Everyone came to my home, and rather than having the traditional meal, we ate surf and turf. This year, it appears as if we’re leaning towards Indian cuisine to keep it fresh and interesting. Christmas songs will be played softly in the background, while Christmas movies display on the TV. The children will take over the basement with video games and their music. But we will all come together to share a Christmas story and Scriptural reading.
Those are just a few of the traditions that my family share with each other throughout the holiday season. As a writer there are more pressures and deadlines reinforced during this time more so than any. While I work hard to meet them all, it simply is sometimes impossible to do so. The one thing that I refuse to do is fail my family or let them down. This is a special time of year for us all, and with prayer, balance, and organization I can uphold my commitment to them. Perhaps the most special part of the holiday season is the creation of new traditions and the maintenance of old ones.
Is there something special that you do with your family, friends, or loved ones during the holiday season to commemorate it? Do you capture special memories by photo or video to reminisce at a later time? Or perhaps to share with a loved one who could not be at the momentous occasion you and your loved ones share?
If you have never created a holiday tradition in the past, or the old ones seem to not be working, it’s never too late to start new ones. Simply think about something that will work for everyone or the majority. Find someone in the family who is willing to work with you to make the new tradition beautiful and meaningful for your family. Maybe you serve the homeless during this season, or hold a prayer session with those in the hospital or hospice care, or visit an orphanage, or give to a family in need in your community.
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.d” (Isaiah 7:14).
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