Christmas is a time for tradition. In a world in which things change at an unprecedented rate, Christmas is a time for practicing the tried-and-true.
Each year in early December, we get the same tree out of the attic. We decorate it with the same old ornaments, some made by my wife when she was a child, others given to us over the years. We cook the same holiday meals, including the same roast beef at Christmas my mother used to make. Usually I don’t have too much trouble with change, but Christmas is my grand exception.
We had one old tradition whose memory I cherish. We would pick a particularly frosty December evening — preferably an evening when the stars glimmered bright and clear. We would get our two little girls into their pajamas at just about twilight, pack them in the car, wrapped in blankets, and go out and see the Christmas lights. They’re in their 30s now and have their own little ones, but I can still hear the “oohs and aahs” as they took in the sparkling lights of the season. When their little eyes would start to droop with sleep, we would head home to cookies and milk and a warm bed.
If we could relive just one memory, I think mine would be that one.
A few years ago, remembering that old family tradition, I had an idea. Why not invite all the families with young children to a storytime at the church? We’d put up a Christmas tree and light a crackling fire in the fireplace, and invite the children to come in their pajamas, and tell a good old Christmas story. Selfishly, it was my way of recreating something wonderful from the past.
We’ve been doing that for over a decade now, and it’s everything I ever imagined it would be. Bright-eyed little ones troop in with warm robes and fuzzy animal slippers, and we sit in front of the fire for the story of the Christingle. The story has its roots in 1747, in the estate of Marienborn near Eckhartshausen in Germany, where Pastor Johannes de Watteville wanted to tell the children about the love of God. The story centers on an orange, a candle, a red bow and raisins, all formed together by a poor little girl as a gift for the Christchild. (If you’re interested, we’ll do it this year on Dec. 21 and 22, at 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., along with the old Living Creche at Walnut Hill and Preston. We’d love to have you join us.)
One year, I decided that the children must be getting tired of the same old story, so I changed the plan.
Big mistake. All of them asked, “Where is the Christingle?”
I learned something that year. Some things shouldn’t change. When it comes to Christmas, even children are traditionalists. So this year, never fear, the Christingle will be back.
May your holidays be bright, and your traditions give you joy.
Blair Monie is senior pastor of the Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church (phpc.org). The Worship section is a regular feature underwritten by Advocate Publishing and the churches listed on these pages. For information about helping support the Worship section, call 214.560.4202.
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