"Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government will be upon His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6
Decorating the tree. It was always one of the highlights we had with mom the day after Thanksgiving. In fact, she wanted the entire house decorated for Christmas! And wanted it all down the day after. Like clockwork! And for those who knew my mom, it was well known that she had to have it perfect......and beautiful!
I carried her tradition into my adult life. But as I started blending my first years of marriage with the traditions of my husband's family, we took on our own 'Anzivino traditions', complete with a Menorah and an advent candle. I can still remember the first Christmas I had with my husband's family. He was one of six siblings so the gathering was much larger than my own family. Lots of love and laughter! We attended their annual midnight Christmas Eve service, then Christmas morning came early. All the young cousins clamoring up the stairs to start the day. But the one thing that stood out to me the most was the celebration. Yes, everyone was enjoying the gift exchange and laughed at the traditional gag gifts given, especially Uncle Chris' robe that was passed around each year. But half way through we stopped the exchange. My mother-in-law came out with a cake, and we sang "Happy Birthday" to Jesus. We paused and focused on the story of Luke before we continued with opening gifts. It was a beautiful time remembering the true reason for this beautiful season and to sing carols. And my mother-in-law, as she would look at her growing family, would always take a moment to remind each of us in the room that we must accept that first Christmas gift to truly be part of His family.
Our traditions have changed in the last few years. Between my mom graduating to heaven, my own 'kids' now adults and scattered across the continent, and my husband and I in our own transition in ministry and life, trees and presents have not been our focus this year. As I sit here in my mother-in-law's basement listening to the carols she is playing upstairs, I reflect on the last couple of days watching her and my father-in-law slowly getting around. At the ages of 90 and 88, life has taken on a new meaning for them. This year it is just Ralph and I here with them, but we are treasuring the presence of each other instead of presents under a tree. Why? Because of the first present given to all of us. Him. Jesus. Emmanuel. Born for our joy.
So the one tradition I hold to this year is singing to Him a birthday song and thanking Him for coming to earth for me so many years ago.