I spent most of my childhood Christmases in a tropical country where palm trees were lit up like Christmas trees and geese were nowhere to be found. In fact, my mother had to scour the city to find two small turkeys for our Christmas dinner with the other missionaries. We affectionately called them “Aunt” and “Uncle” and this helped to create a sense of “family” while we were away from home.
Gathering on a screened in patio next to a mango tree to eat turkey and the canned cranberries and black olives shipped to us by a family friend, was definitely different. But every year my mother did a wonderful job incorporating the Christmas traditions passed down to her from her upbringing on a Canadian farm. I can only remember three childhood Christmases where we braved blizzards to get to Grandma’s or Aunt Mary’s farms in Canada, but those Christmases are forever etched in my memory.
Grandmothers and aunts have a way of making the holidays grand, the atmosphere warm and the food mouthwatering. Aunt Mary had spent hours turning baby food jars into smiling Santa’s full of candy with red felt hats and white pointy beards. These sat at each plate – beckoning us to sit and enjoy all that was to come. Aunt Jean made the butter tarts, Aunt Golda made the Christmas pudding, Aunt Adeline made German cookies and Aunt Penny made the macaroons and the cherry jello with the pink fluff. They always arrived with a special something that would make their nieces and nephews smile.
A turkey, a ham and a fat goose were carved intricately by Uncle John. Uncle Dick thanked God for our feast and the eating frenzy began. Homemade rolls, creamy mashed potatoes, stuffing, vegetable casseroles, jellos, homemade pickles and umpteen pies and squares covered the tables. I was in heaven and visions of beaches and palm trees were long gone as I basked in the camaraderie of the family that I had so often missed. Even though my Grandmothers and two of my dearest Aunts are in heaven, the Christmas candy jars, the recipes and the memories still remain – poignant reminders of valuable family traditions that I carry on with my own growing family.
Yes, Christmas is coming and the choices we have to make it “fat” with happy moments are endless. The extra decorating, baking and cleaning are all worth it when we consider what we are building into the next generation who is watching our every move. One day, they will emerge as the Christmas hosts and we will sit back and enjoy watching them live out the family traditions – smiling as they create new ones.
In Ephesians 5:1 we are told to be imitators of God as dear children. Especially at Christmas, we have the opportunity to show Christ’s love to others by serving, giving gifts, hugging dear ones and remembering that the Bethlehem babe is our loving God come to earth to bring us the greatest gifts of peace, grace and hope so that we can give them away! Many babies have become kings but only one King became a baby!
As December 25th approaches, let’s take a few moments to salute the special people in our lives who have shown us how abundant hospitality and love make every Christmas a glorious celebration of our Saviour’s birth.
May peace, love and joy abide with you and yours this Christmas and in 2012!
Enjoy this Christmas poem written by my dear Dad who was a missionary in Latin America and Spain for 34 years!
The Promised Babe
T’was the night before Christmas, and all through the land,
Men were still under law, but grace was at hand.
No prophet had spoken four hundred long years,
They longed for Messiah to drive out their fears.
When what to some shepherds, Christmas night should appear,
But a band of bright angels who’s singing so clear
Caused them to tremble and shake with alarm,
But the angel said, “Fear not, I bring you no harm”.
“But unto you this day in Bethlehem town,
The Holy Son of God as a babe is come down.”
The shepherds with haste went to see this great sight,
And rejoiced o’er the babe on that first Christmas night.
So this Bethlehem babe who came long ago,
Was given by God to a world sick with woe.
This magnificent gift would now be for each heart,
A way for mankind to make a new start.
Copyright 2008, Donald Stuckless