Traditions are like gift wrap.
Every time a couple leaves and cleaves, a new family is formed and they begin to dress up their own traditions, including those special traditions focused around the holidays. It may be difficult to create your own style if you are a family that lives close by both sets of parents, having to share time between families on holidays. Yet, living far away has it's challenges too! Matter of fact, living in another culture, a different hemisphere and far away from grandparents and other family has deeply impacted not only how our family celebrates the holidays, but how we think about them.
First of all, holidays come wrapped in all different colors and sizes in other countries. For one, in the Southern Hemisphere, Christmas is during summer... and it's HOT! (just stop and think of how many North American traditions have to do with being cold outside!) Thanksgiving is hardly heard of here in Peru while I think New Years is bigger here than in the US. Easter, Mother's Day and Independence Day are quite popular in Latin America and are celebrated with much ado. Even birthdays are made special, in that the birthday girl is so lucky she gets to prepare a meal for all her visitors! (I, the Queen of October 19th, admittedly have trouble with that one!)
Now, I grew up probably similar to the majority of you, thinking that the winter holidays were all about family, turkey, eating as much as possible, Christmas trees, decorations, lights, prettily wrapped presents (and lots of them!) and having a day full of as many pleasant things as possible. Well? Isn't that what most of us thought, or maybe still think? It is certainly what commercialism would have us believe. However, as a grown up I've certainly had a Holiday or two that were not all they were wrapped up to be! How often do we realize, that many people in the world have nothing and do nothing on our “most important days of the year”. I know, it seems exaggerated, but it's true.
Somehow, our experiences have taught us that Holidays are more than all that.
But if Holidays are not all about traditions, then what?
Our families are far away, the cranberry sauce comes airmail if at all, and there's absolutely NO hope of a white Christmas... until recently, turkeys weren't to be found before the middle of December, and in the early years, unless you brought or made your own decorations, including your own artificial tree (a somewhat recent luxury), you'd be out of luck there too. So, if holiday fun is based solely on the external, we should go cry in the corner every year during the holidays. But we don't. And here's why: that would be ridiculous. Oh, that and we've realized that holidays are a lot more than just the pretty wrappings. Sure, there can be a whole lot of fun involved, and over the years we have had some really special holidays here with our 'missionary family'. But, what we find under all that gift wrap is, that certain days are special because for us they have deeper meaning.
The treasure of Thanksgiving is a whole season to give thanks to God for all He has given us. The rest is the curly ribbon on top! And sure, we want to be thankful all year round, but having one day when we can REALLY remember... this is good for us! The same goes for Christmas, we unwrap the Gift of the God who keeps His promises, His Son who will someday come again! Of course we want to remember Him every day of the year, but why not be extra doubly reminded at Christmas?! Sure, we can do all of this without a whole lot of poof and floof. But, truth be told, all of us know that a little floof here and curly ribbon there is not going to hurt anyone. :) The floof simply serves to remind us...
Notice Stove Top stuffing, the pumpkin, olives and cranberry?!
So, bring on the turkey and twinkly lights and the presents or whatever floof you've got and let's remember...
GOD is very very good! :)