Here it is Christmas Eve and for many, the traditions will end tonight, and for others, they will start. It seems as if we all have some level of traditions we go through during the Christmas season. I know that for my family we do. Tonight my daughter will arrive at the house with her husband. We will load up in the van, drive around the area to check out Christmas lights while listening to a variety of Christmas music, from Bing Crosby to John Rivers, from sacred to sacrilegious, we will listen to it all while checking out the lights and getting into the Christmas spirit.
After seeing the lights, we return home to continue a tradition we started in our family some years ago. You see, I knew that between my wife's families and mine they had their own traditions, for some, those traditions involved us. We knew though, especially with our families, and with the route we had chosen in life, it was going to be important to start our own traditions. So early on we did just that. We started with the traditions that have carried on now for almost 28 years.
Each Christmas Eve night we start with the reading of the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke. We read from the angel telling Zechariah and Elisabeth about the upcoming birth of John to the point where Simeon holds the baby Jesus in the temple. We say a prayer of thanks for and to Christ, and in the early days before children, would watch a movie, then go to bed.
After we had children it seemed as if only a few things would change. We would continue with the car trip of going to see Christmas lights, listening to music, reading the story, but after the birth of our daughter we added a couple of things. My wife and I read to our daughter all of the time, year round, from a very early age. Her love of reading is likely why she did so well in school, and later obtained a vocation of crafting words, she is much better than I and I know it.
One of the things that changed was our purchase of the book Santa are you for Real from one of the local Christian book stores. We purchased this wonderful Children's book that told the story of the real St. Nicholas. It was one of the books that inspired me some years later to spend a great deal of time researching and checking out the Real St. Nick. In this family tradition, from a very early age, we begin to teach our daughter the correlation between Santa Claus, and the Real St. Nicholas. We never taught the existence of a Santa Claus, just the historical person of Saint Nicholas and what he believed. Now don't get me wrong. We would play, and use Santa Claus as a reminder of who the Real St. Nicholas was, but we knew from the outset, including my daughter, that we were playing. The tradition of reading this book has carried on in our family for years, and will continue tonight. Some ask if not teaching our daughter about St. Nicholas deprived her of any childhood joys? I don't think so, it at least in our minds, better allowed us to be honest with her. As she grew older she didn't have to distinguish about the reality of Jesus, we have never denied that story. She also knew that her parents wouldn't trick her. In fact, she got into trouble once for sharing the truth about the real St. Nicholas at school, that is okay though, we have sense made sure to teach our son, and subsequently our daughter, that it is best if each individual family teaches their own families their own traditions. You can click on the book image to read the story of Santa are you for Real.
Another tradition that started with our daughter was she was allowed to open one present from her Aunt Sissy, my sister on Christmas Eve. I think I can say in all honesty, my wife and I have never opened a present on Christmas Eve. We have had friends give us presents, from work or other places, but even there, just like last night in fact, I ask, can I wait to open this on Christmas day? If they say no open it now, we honor them with their request, but really like it when they say, yea go ahead and wait. While I think everyone makes those types of decisions, we knew our family would understand the value of Christmas Day by saving the presents to open on the day Christ was born. Many other families, just as mentioned later have a different tradition, many will open their presents tonight, that is fine, it is up to them but these are the ones our family honors.
The third and last tradition up until my son is that on Christmas day we have a Birthday Cake for Jesus and sing happy birthday to Jesus. It is if you will, part of our prayer on Christmas day to make sure we realize what the day is all about. Our family has enjoyed these traditions for some time, and they were a ritual in our family that stayed just like that up until the receipt of our son which I will share more about tomorrow when I share, The Ultimate Christmas Present.
Over the years some things change here and there, for almost 16 years of our life, we had homeless people, and mentally ill people spend Christmas with us. We loved this time, and to be honest, miss it a great deal. We still try to do it, but just don't have the accessibility and resources we once had. This was a real reminder of what it meant to give at Christmas, and to be honest, giving to them, took away the selfish desires we may have had for ourselves regarding getting presents.
It would be some years later and we incorporated another tradition to make Christmas last longer. It always seemed as if there was a let down right after opening the presents. What we started doing though was leaving one present behind to be opened on Christmas night. It made the excitement, and joy last longer through the day. We have sense added another present to be opened the day after Christmas, but more about that tomorrow. Our kids have taken turns handing out presents, and then the recipient gets to put now, two back, to be opened later.
The truth is, life goes on, we all in some ways, even if a part of someone else's tradition, develops and starts our own traditions. In fact, I personally encourage new families and even old ones if they haven't done so to start their own traditions. I tell them, "make them personal, make them special, but whatever you do, make sure you do something that will remind you of the birth of Christ, and of what Christ has done for you. Also celebrate family."
I think the lack of family celebrations as a child is what has made this day so special to me. I am pretty quirky about the day. I know it isn't the day that Jesus was actually born, it was likely at a later date and a later time, but it is a day when we can all come together, whether we realize it or not, accept it or not, and recognize the wonderful things that came to this earth through Christ birth, and ultimate crucifixion and resurrection.
This Christmas has been tough financially, but God has helped our family realize it isn’t about receiving or even for that matter, giving gifts, it is about celebrating the birth of Christ and what that gift brought to the planet. God is still good. True, we may not have as many gifts to open as we have in the past, we may not have had as many gifts to give as we have in the past, but we have done what we could for the people we love and because Christ loves us we have reason to celebrate. That is what matters.
As time goes on, new traditions start and things change. Just like Tevya in Fiddler on the Roof, we have to accept that fact. My daughter is grown now, married and someday, will have children of her own. I have encouraged her and her husband to start their own traditions, and in a way, they have. They will do Christmas Eve celebrations tonight including gift openings with her husbands' family. This Christmas will likely be a little better than last because last Christmas was the first Christmas without his mom. I suspect those things get a little easier, I don't know, I can't relate to that yet. I imagine it is still hard though. I cherish the willingness of my daughter to give this gift of love to her husband and her new family. I honor and respect that tradition. They will arrive at the house here late tonight. Then our traditions will start but we are thinking about checking out something we have never done before, we are thinking about going to a Midnight Mass. We are not Catholic, but thought, this could be something new. Don't know if it will be something we do again, if it will become a tradition, we haven't done it yet. We realize, trying something new don't constitute it becoming a tradition, doing it year, after year, after year does. With that being said, what traditions do you have? If you don't have any, are you willing to start? Merry Christmas and have a great day.
Just a reminder, there will be another blog today, this evening, and then the Ultimate Christmas Blog tomorrow. If you want to see how good God really is, how it is that he still gives gifts, you will want to check out the Christmas Day Blog.
Now before we get to the videos today, hopefully everyone will remember to pass the blogs along to your friends. The Christmas Special blogs from TVP can help a lot of people. You can show them what we are doing by Clicking Here at this Link. They can also get in the Christmas Spirit by Clicking Here and reading about The Virtual Pew and our Christmas giving options. Also be on the lookout for my story of The Best Christmas Ever, which will be posted around Christmas Day. It is a heart tugging story, and a true testament to the power of Christmas and God. I am really looking forward to retelling this story that is true, and happened to me and my family. It has been published across the world, and I will redo the story, just for The Virtual Pew.
Now for those that do not know, make sure you check out the numerous articles and blogs by checking out the archives. If visiting The Virtual Pew or MySpace they are archived on the left hand side of the page. Scroll down to where you see newer or older listed under archives and then click there. There are numerous postings, and you will have to go into the archives to see the 100 plus postings over the last months.
Now I also want to remind you that you can visit www.thevirtualpew.com and on the front page scroll down to the left hand side of the page where you sill see our store. Your purchases through our Amazon store provides needed funds to The Virtual Pew. If you do not see something on the page to buy, you can click on the search engine for the store, (do not put anything in the search box at this time) and you will then be taken to Amazon where you can search for anything you desire. Hopefully as you shop for Christmas you will consider a gift to The Virtual Pew and/or at the very least shop our store. The items on the store page are highly recommended.
Now prior to checking out the videos for the day, here is that information, contact and contribution information regarding The Virtual Pew. Again, thanks for visiting, have a Merry Christmas or whatever holiday you celebrate. Just remember though, from The Virtual Pew, we wish you a Merry Christmas.
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Oh Yea, here is that contact information again.
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Donald Fagen Snowbound
Jump 5 Nick At Night Christmas Special
New Christmas Light display 2006 TSO
War Is Over Drum Corps Cover, Verry Good
DBSK Singinging Magic Castle, Santa Claus is Coming to Town
The Night Santa Went Crazy
Frosty The Snowman 1965
One Piece Utae! Jingle Bells
Flanders is a Jerk, The Ned Flanders Christmas Carol - The Simpsons
Newsong Christmas Shoes
Regine Velasquez All I Want For Christmas is You
Christmas Toys 2006 Music Video Aqua Be Happy
Dreams The Coors Christmas Live BBC
Lewis Black Christmas
Aire De Navidad 1973
All I Want For Christmas is You Hayden
Christmas Wrapping The Waitresses
Crazy Christmas Lights 5 TSO
We Three Kings, Hugh Jackman, David Hobson and Peter Cousen
Slade Merry Christmas Everybody TOTP 1973
Taylor Hicks White Christmas
Michael W. Smith Place In This World
The Christmas Song, Guitar & Sync Great Photos
Boney M. Mary's Boy Child, Oh My Lord
Clay Aiken Christmas Show A Christmas Song
Winter Wonderland Madison Park
Heather Martin, When Are You Coming Home - (WOW is all I can say. This one made me tear up)
Heather Martin News Features
Enya Silent Night In Irish
Sims 2 I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause
Amadeaus Chamber Choir O Holy Night