The staff here at Christian Counseling of Mid Michigan, would like to share with you some of our most meaningful experiences from Christmas past and traditions that we share with our families. Our hope is that by sharing our memories you will be inspired to create and share your own traditions and memories with your family. Traditions help families to bond and give meaning to holidays they are activities that bring pleasure to each member and deepen our love for each other.
Joyce: Christmas 1970 – Ames, Iowa. Family- Mom, Dad, and Eric 2 years old. Iowa winter was so, so cold. Our cars need a heating pad and blanket over the battery and engine. The radiator has a heater too. The day before Christmas, Dad goes to find a Christmas tree. Safeway has one left! It is free! We were poor! But, it is also bent and crooked with limbs at odd angles. A true Charlie Brown tree. Eric didn’t care! It was decorated with everything we could find or make. Popcorn, cranberries, candy canes, lights, and bright balls. At the end, our tree was still odd but we loved it and Eric always remembered that tree as the best tree. The pictures come out each year. Our Charlie Brown Christmas made us feel rich in love and helped us remember Christ’s humble entrance into the world.
Joan: My daughter, daughter-in-law, and I packed two of my little grandchildren on a sled while my eight and eleven year old grandchildren trudged with us through the deep snow of Charlevoix. The children’s mission was to give away one hundred dollars that had been given to them for Christmas (for this purpose). They had to make decisions about how to distribute their monetary gifts in meaningful ways. I followed the children from restaurant, to pharmacy, to fudge shop, and beyond. Among other donations, they paid for a couple’s breakfast, bought coffee for a window washer, contributed to a costly prescription, treated a young girl to her favorite donuts, bought fudge for a child, and were genuinely thrilled by the gratitude their generosity inspired. This was a touching lesson in the joy of giving to others that will remain with them (and me) for years to come!
Emily: My favorite holiday tradition…On Christmas morning we put a candle in a coffee cake and after reading the Christmas story from the Bible we sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus. It is a great reminder to even the youngest kids that Christmas means more than just gifts.
Duane: Christmas is a time to celebrate our family bonds and see love for each other. And a time to celebrate the source of our blessing through Jesus Christ.
Kara: I have two greatest Christmas memories with my family. One that we still do to this day is my Dad will read the Christmas story from the Bible on Christmas morning then we sing a few Christmas carols and he prays for each of us individually before we open presents. The second tradition we no longer do, but I have great memories of it from when I was younger. My Mother was usually done with her shopping very early and my parents would often put all the presents under the tree a few weeks before Christmas. To keep things interesting though, our actual names would not be on the presents, instead, there would be code names on the presents and we had until Christmas morning to figure out the code in order to know which presents were ours. I can remember sorting the gifts by their code name, counting them (of course we all thought we were the code name that had the most presents!), and spending hours trying to crack the code. In the end, my Dad usually gave us a clue that would give it away.
Jimi: My sister’s birthday is Christmas Eve, and when we were growing up, we would go out for dinner on our birthdays. After mass, the only restaurant open on Christmas Eve was Burger King. So, we would go to Burger King for Whoppers after mass, then head home to open one present before bed.
Catherine: My favorite Christmas tradition began with my parents. My family would attend the Candlelight Christmas Eve church service. After church, we would drive around looking at the beautiful lawn decorations while Santa Clause delivered our presents. When we got home from our drive, my dad would turn off all of lights except for the Christmas tree. My mom would sit close to the tree and have us kids sit on the floor facing the nativity. Mom would read the Christmas story from the bible and then we would sing a couple of Christmas Carols. My parents let my brothers, and I each open one small present before going to bed. My husband and I have continued these traditions with our children and added the celebration of Advent. Our children look forward to singing the songs and lighting the candles each week marking the anticipated Joy of Jesus birth. The three of them have commented many times over the years that they will carry on the Christmas traditions with their children.
Jerry: When I was a teenager, my mother would often babysit the girls across the street. One Christmas, the parents decided to give many gifts to the girls (divorced parents seeking to buy approval). The youngest waded in and soon had the paper ripped off all of her packages. Then, in a demanding voice, she asked, “is this all?” That scene, etched in my mind, carried over to the days when our two children approached Christmas. My wife and I decided to do the Twelve Days of Christmas, but with a twist. Starting on December 13, we handed each child a small gift, enjoyed the moment of opening and ‘Ooos’ and ‘Ahhs’ and then we went about the day. When Christmas came, the kids already had many days of anticipation and opening. The traditional opening of gifts was done with the usual excitement that surrounds Christmas. This tradition was carried on into their late teen years.
Merry Christmas and Blessed New Year,
Joyce, Jimi, Jerry, Joan, Duane, Emily, Kara, and Catherine