Our Christ-Centred Traditions at Christmas
No doubt traditions at Christmas, like much else in life, has changed. My own childhood memories are of setting up our family crib, without the baby until Christmas night of course, as well as music and singing.
The word “advent” means, “It’s coming!” And what is it that is on its way other than a longingly anticipated year-end and holiday-time?
After all the office parties have been celebrated, for some people there’ll be time away from home — but for many others, in these tough economic times, it will also mean holidaying at home. It might mean resting rather than shopping.
But, whether the holiday is spent at home or away, I hope that it will also include some quality family-time together. But even that can be quite complicated as children might commute between parents, grandparents and other relatives.
Life and Traditions Change
No doubt Christmas, like much else in life, has changed. My own childhood memories are of setting up our family crib, without the baby until Christmas night of course, as well as music and singing.
Getting married meant I joined another family and their traditions. When our kids were still small we never went away at this time. We did some religious Advent and Christmas activities — Advent calendar and wreath, reading stories, making things, and our own little Christmas concerts.
Of course we also shopped and sometimes made gifts for one another.
When the children married and grandchildren came along some activities continued but it did sadden me when, after a while, each new family wanted to do their own thing, which wasn’t always very religious.
Choir and Midnight Mass is still much of a tradition, at least for me. I’ve even gone alone. As are Christmas stories.
God Speaks the Language of Love
As Marfam’s main writer of stories, poems and articles, I’ve thought up many different settings. One favourite story, the theme of which I borrowed in part, is “What language does God speak?”
A young boy, Emmanuel, travels all over the world, asking that question. He gets many different answers and it is true that God does speak Zulu, Swahili, English, German, Chinese or Spanish. God communicates with us in our own language and culture — but the real answer is that God speaks the language of love.
Whoever, whatever and wherever we are, if we speak the language of love and live what we speak, then we are doing something God-like too.
How Do We Put Christ Back into Christmas?
Over 50 years ago, the Knights of Da Gama in their concern about the commercialising of Christmas developed their “Put Christ Back Into Christmas” campaign, also adding the campaign to reverence the Holy Name of Jesus. Many thousands of the Knights’ Christmas cards were sold and displayed in homes all over the country and beyond.
But that has changed, too, and I’m told they have boxes of cards unsold, gathering dust while we have gone digital or send WhatsApp, Facebook or e-mail greetings.
So apart from a (possibly garishly decorated) Christmas tree, in many homes there is no great visible sign of the birth of a baby who is Christ the Lord in a little town of Bethlehem and laid in a simple animal manger maybe because his family hadn’t booked their accommodation in good time.
But there is relief: Marfam has teamed up with the Knights of Da Gama this year in promoting “Put Christ Back Into Christmas”.
During December Marfam’s short daily reflections tell the stories of the lives and deaths of the ancestors of Jesus, Bible families who lived interesting lives and through pretty tough times too.
No ‘Cleaned Up’ Bible Stories!
Bible stories don’t have to be sanitised and be sweet and sentimental. There must have been pretty frightening experiences for Mary and Joseph, but as in another of my favourite stories, their precious baby had starlight in his little eyes, wordlessly spreading God’s love from his earliest days until the final hill not far from the place of his birth.
I think I should gather some of these stories into a book, CHRISTMAS is Coming!
For Christians, there is no Christmas without Christ. That’s what it really means.