Tag Archives: holiday

Hand Family Christmas

For the first time in more than eight years, I had both of my sons home for Christmas. It has been a joy to have the house full with my sons and my grandchildren. For most of the past several years, Michelle and I have travelled to spend the holidays with our parents and siblings, which is always a great way to spend the holiday, although many times it was mourning the loss of a family member who was missed for the first Christmas since their passing. This year, we decided to stay home rather than travel. My eldest son moved in with us this year, so we had the pleasure of his company, but then Andrew also said he wanted to spend the holiday with us too.

With the holiday approaching, and knowing that Lindsey and the kids had another set of parents to visit, Michelle and I decided to do a Christmas brunch, rather than dinner. We decided to roast a ham, make a baked egg casserole and a hash brown casserole and have country green beans and Hawaiian rolls round out the menu. Michelle and I split the duties on the ham; she made the hash brown casserole while I made the baked egg casserole and the country green beans. The reaction of the kids made slaving over a hot stove while the kids played with their toys worthwhile. “Grampa, you and Mimi should open a restaurant!”

I didn’t realize how much I missed having kids around on Christmas morning. I love my family, and i love spending time with my mom and siblings, but having grown kids makes things different. Not worse, just different. But this Christmas, with the kids’ antics and the things they say, ranks right up there with the best in my memory.

Spending time with family is the best way to spend the holiday. Remembering the joy of giving is important, as is observing beloved traditions (even if it is beloved by only one person), but last night, after dinner and our traditional drive around to look at Christmas lights, I read from the second chapter of Luke to remind the children of the reason we observe Christmas. They sat and listened to not only that, but Grampa’s reading of “A Visit from St. Nick” before they headed off to bed. Zachary admonished his older brother and sister that they had to get right to sleep before midnight or else Santa would not stop by.

Even the typical sibling drama was minimized, from both levels, as everyone got along and had a great time. Now we can look forward to visiting with Great-Granny and Aunt Debbie starting tomorrow.

Merry Christmas all.

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Dealing With Tradition

This season is the time of year when people tend to gather together with family to reflect on their lives and give thanks for the blessings they have enjoyed.  My mom and both of my sons gathered with my daughter in law and grandkids and even my sister on facetime at my house for a very enjoyable thanksgiving celebration.  But not everyone took advantage of the opportunity to spend time at home for the holiday.  At the nearby Best Buy, a line of tents served as quarters for dozens of people who wanted to get the jump on the store’s black Friday sale.
I have to wonder why someone would forgo an opportunity to relax and gorge themselves while watching football with loved ones.  Yet, there they were.  One group of young people set up camp Tuesday night and they were about 5 tents back from the front door.  They said that the first tent was set up Monday afternoon.  Evidently, Best Buy is supposed to have a 42 inch TV on sale for a under two hundred bucks or so.  One young man, Anthony, is also looking for a 60-inch for his living room  for $1000 and a 50 dollar gift card for iPhone 5.  The group is not new to Black Friday camping.  They all spent last year doing the same thing.
They were not alone.  Diana and her family was in the tent in front of them.  She seemed a bit more sensitive about camping out.  “You’re not going to make fun of me are you?  Somebody already yelled at me ‘you’re going to be spending thanksgiving here?'”
But that didn’t stop her from setting up for the second year in a row. She also set up Tuesday at 5 pm and plans on getting the 40-inch TV and an Xbox and the smart blue ray player.  But she doesn’t plan on missing Thanksgiving.  Her whole family is going to be here. “We have a turkey thawing and we’re going to bring it.”
So with her plans to include the family in her deal waiting, she hopes to have her cake (or bird) and eat it too.  The deals make it worth it for them.  Since the significance of the holiday is–for the most part–a matter of tradition, these campers could be starting something new.  “We have the same neighbors. It has become a tradition,” Diana said.
Of course, as the day goes on, more people are sure to join the line as others who chose to spend Thanksgiving at home during the day, decide to get the jump on black Friday deals.  
So, while I cannot imaging spending 72 hours in front of a big box store just to buy a TV, others make the most of their deal seeking, even combining family traditions with their fellow line sitters.  I hope they remember to give thanks for their good line position.  Meanwhile, I enjoyed our meal and the time with the kinds, grandkids and mom watching the Texans give me a heart attack in their overtime win.  And, oh, was the pumpkin pie good.  I doubt it would have been as good on a lawn chair in front of a closed store.

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The Reason for the Season

‘Tis the Season. This is a phrase that has been used to introduce what the media is euphemistically referring to as the “holiday season,” because the true name of the holiday in question is no longer considered politically correct. Stores have holiday sales, and people say Happy Holidays as a greeting to each other. Even the phrase “Happy Hanukkah” is more accepted. Congress has been admonished that they cannot express any salutations on official correspondence that refer to the holiday. There is a concerted effort to marginalize the holiday (a term referring to a Holy Day) that is significant to Christians, and this attack is coming from humanists, atheists, agnostics and muslims among others. These assaults are both direct in the loss of the saying “Merry Christmas” and indirect in the abandonment of the holiday traditions because of the commercialization. They use the very symbols of Christmas to argue against Christian observation. The enemies of Christianity’s victory will not come when Christmas is outlawed, but when Christians surrender Christmas.

Many Christians have decried the commercialization of Christmas which seems to be growing more blatant every year. Retailers set out their decorations earlier, sales get bigger and hyped with more enthusiasm as retailers look for the biggest profits, and people are bombarded with opportunities to donate to any number of charities. This year, Black Friday was actually Black Thursday as many retailers opened for business on Thanksgiving Day. Perhaps they do this to try to marginalize another Christian holiday in Thanksgiving.

Jesus was most likely not born on December 25th. The Bible doesn’t say it and a scientific study of the scripture indicates that it is more likely he was born in September or October, although it is still a matter of discussion and debate. Some claim that the December 25th date is set to coincide with the pagan ritual of saturnalia, but many Christian scholars hold that Constantine, the first Christian emperor, set the holiday date. To refuse to celebrate a Christian holiday because it may fall during a one-time pagan observance is to say that I should not celebrate my birthday because it also happens to be Adolph Hitler’s.

Santa has been attacked by many Christians as a false god or an idol that represents the commercialism that is distracting people from the true meaning of the holiday, that of celebrating Christ’s birth. Some shun Christmas decorations as a pagan ritual. All these reasons may seem a noble cause to shun the traditions of the season, but all that serves to do is to promote the commercialization, humanization and de-Christianization of Christmas. Santa Claus in his popular jolly form with the bright red suit and white fur trim is the creation of the Coca Cola marketing department and was introduced in the 1950’s. He is the quintessential marketing tool and has been one of the most successful in history. Kids wait up all night on Christmas eve looking for Santa’s reindeer to land on their roofs.

Beyond Coca Cola’s Santa Claus is the actual story of Kris Kringle. The name Kris Kringle actually comes from the German KristKindle, which translates Christ Child. According to Wikipedia, Kris Kringle was promoted as a gift bringer during the reformation to replace the figure of Saint Nicholas, a catholic priest known among other things for leaving coins in the shoes of children. So Santa Claus is not a pagan symbol, nor is he an idol or false god. He is the personification of Christ’s love and based entirely on Christian principles. Christians should continue to welcome Santa into their homes every year. The moral implications of telling children about the reality of Santa and the truth of the spirit of giving and its origins in history are an individual issue.

The tradition of decorating for Christmas is not based in the pagan rituals, although some would compare it to a Yule tree to try to remove any reference to the Christian holiday. Some accounts ascribe the origins of the Christmas tree to a representation of the paradise tree, honoring the tree that provided the apple that Eve gave to Adam. Other origins are associated with more modern interpretations in northern Germany of celebrating around the tree, then burning the tree at the end of the festivities. Granted, festooning one’s house in light bulbs and garland may seem garish and commercial, but it is an opportunity to enjoy and pass on a shared family tradition. This helps draw a family closer together.

The commercialization of Christmas is rampant and not just for commercial reasons. Granted, businesses want to make as much money as they can. The term black Friday is a reference to the fact that many retailers operate at a loss (negative ledger balances are usually written in red ink) for most of the year and their ledgers finally run in the black (positive balance) for the first time the day after Thanksgiving when more people head out to begin their Christmas shopping. Retailers have marketing companies working year-round to help people find gifts to give. Man’s greedy nature has reversed the onus so that more people make wish lists of wants rather than lists of gives. The practice of giving gifts may seem disingenuous to the solemnity of the Holy Day, but it is based in the historical Christmas story. The magi brought the baby Jesus gifts befitting a king; gold for its value, frankincense, an incense symbolizing prayer and myrrh, an oil for anointing. Christians give gifts at the holiday in honor of that spirit of giving.

Opponents of Christianity want nothing more than to strip America of all things Christian. They try to purge our history books of any Christian references from our founding fathers. They try to twist the first amendment—the one right that guarantees our right to our Christian faith—to silence us as separation of church and state. They try to strip our recognition of our savior’s birth by making it a commercial celebration.

When Christmas is no longer a Christian celebration, then it is nothing more than a 2-month long advertisement and sale with no significance other than how much people can buy for how little money. It is imperative that Christians remember not only the origin of the day—Christ’s birth—but also the traditions of the holiday. Put up a tree, put up a Santa, tell your kids the story of Christ’s birth. Once we surrender our claim to the traditions, we surrender our claim to the season. Keep Christ in Christmas, keep Christmas in your heart, and keep the traditions alive. Tell everyone you meet “Merry Christmas” eschew saying Happy Holidays and worry not about political correctness. The first amendment gives every Christian the right to say Merry Christmas. Use it at every opportunity.

Christmas is a Christian holiday; may it always be so.

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