Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Putting Up the Tree

I love traditions.  That is probably why this time of year is one of my favorites.  Our family traditions leading up to Christmas Day start with the setting up of our Christmas tree.  The two oldest children drug the big box holding our seven foot after-Christmas bargain down from the attic.  After supper we turned on Christmas music and began the assembling process.  With seven children helping re-shape the branches, and Dad putting the branches on, it didn't take too long to get the large tree up.

This year the putting on of the lights proved to be the challenge.  Two of our three strings were not working.  Being of a frugal nature my husband and I began checking each little bulb.  I gave up after about twenty minutes, and told my husband we should just go buy new lights.  He was convinced that would be too expensive.  So, we continued to check each little bulb for the next 30 minutes, but with no success.  By this time, the children were all begging to buy the new lights themselves.  A quick trip to the store and six dollars later, we at last had our tree lit.  

I opened the boxes of decorations and the children quickly began finding their own special ornaments to hang on the tree.  Hearing them remember where the ornaments came from touched my heart.  "This is the ornament Grandma Vada gave us last year."  "This one was from Aunt Jenni."  "I made this one at church."  In a short time, the tree was beautiful.

Now it was time to celebrate with our traditional eggnog and cookies.  We all gathered around our large dining room table sipping slowly and savoring each bite of our cookies.

Then came the best time of all.  The younger children slipped into their cozy pajamas.  We all gathered in the living room with only the tree lights and a lamp.  Snuggling all together, dad began reading our Christmas story.  We read the same book every year.  We finish the last chapter on the day we open presents.

The book we read is One Wintry Night  by Ruth Bell Graham.  It recounts the story of mankind from the beginning of time.  It shows man's need of a Savior.  Then finally the Savior comes.  We've been reading this book since 1996 when it was given to us as a present.  We like it because it gives the whole story of Christmas.

 In Joshua 4 God had the Israelites set up stones on the other side of the Jordan so that "when your children ask you, 'What do these stones mean?' tell them...these stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever."  The stones were a reminder of all God had done.   Traditions are important.  Through traditions we hand down values to our children.  If we handle our Christmas traditions properly they too can be memorials.  Christmas is the perfect time to help our children remember God, his plan for mankind, and the salvation he sent.

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