Christmas Traditions

“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” -Luke 2:19

If there’s any time of the year that’s filled with traditions, it’s Christmas. What to eat, what to wear, what to sing: the list is endless! The traditions are often very specific, too. In my house as a child, we woke up on Christmas morning, opened stockings (which always contained an orange each), made and ate biscuits for breakfast (along with that orange), washed the breakfast dishes, then opened presents.

You probably have your own very specific Christmas traditions. The tradition may be exactly the same as always, or it may have changed over the years. These traditions can become so important that we feel we can’t miss them or Christmas might be ruined.

Sometimes, though, traditions don’t work. I mean, really don’t work. As in, the tradition is so spectacularly messed up that you don’t even know what to do next. Not like the year my mom made cinnamon rolls instead of biscuits. Even worse.

Like, for instance, the year my family was driving to my grandparents’ house on Christmas. We were supposed to be there for supper, but for reasons I don’t know (bad weather? construction? who knows!), we were way behind schedule.

As you know, not many restaurants are open on Christmas Day, even less 20 years ago. We’d been in the car for six hours, however, and we were hungry. Really hungry. The hunger that only tweenagers who were looking forward to mashed potatoes at Grandma’s can feel. (Okay, so we were equal parts hungry and melodramatic.) Where could we eat?

Well, Casey’s was open. This was NOT the plan, but there we were, eating slices of pepperoni pizza and enjoying a treat from the ice cream freezer. (I still remember that double chocolate ice cream sandwich with nuts. Yum.) Casey’s pizza and ice cream sandwiches remains the single most memorable Christmas meal I have ever eaten, simply because it was so far from what I expected.

We might not expect Christmas to be this way, either. God shows up– in a baby? A poor baby? A poor baby laid to sleep in a manger? It hardly seems grand or glorious enough for God. Not a tradition I’d plan on. Jesus chooses to show up in the most unexpected way possible. Jesus disrupts the traditions of power in order to be our brother. Jesus chooses to challenge the traditions of what a king, a god, a savior would be, in order to be the King, the God, the Savior we needed.

I guess some traditions are worth breaking.

Jesus, my King, my God, my Savior, thank you for coming to us in an unexpected way. Help me see through traditions to you, the heart of Christmas. In your name, Amen.

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