My Mother gives Us Pajamas for Christmas
Several years ago, I made a presentation about Christmas customs to an elementary school class. I asked how many of them received new pajamas for Christmas. Most of the hands went up. Then I asked how many got to open them on Christmas Eve. Most of the hands stayed up. We talked about why that might be. When I suggested that it might be so that all of them looked good in the pictures taken Christmas morning, many had never thought of this possibility. Are there reasons behind Christmas traditions, or are they hit and miss? Probably, a little bit of both.
One family celebrated the day of Sinterklass on December 5th. The mother is Dutch and has transported the tradition of children putting their shoes by the fireplace that night so that they can receive gifts from Sint Nicolaas. In this way, she shares part of the magic of her childhood with her children. Another family with a Scandinavian background always leaves an ornament on the Christmas tree so that Christmas will return the next year. Other families might choose foods from the lands where there families once lived to be part of the holiday celebration.
One man went to Switzerland on his mission and developed a love of fondue. While this is not a holiday-only-food, their family now has fondue every Christmas Eve. This allows for memories of his mission as well as an inclusion of his family in what was a significant time in his life.
Being able to make traditions significant is a plus for the holiday experience. Some families work at turning what can be the nightmare of shopping into family time. The mother or father takes a child alone to do his/her Christmas shopping providing much needed one-on-one time during this busy time of the year.
Some families use a candle that is scored 24 times or just burn a regular candle with the goal that the candle will be gone by Christmas Day. While the candle is burning, the family participate in family Christmas activities. There are many customs that can slow down the hectic pace. One family puts up a Christmas puzzle on their dining room table and leaves it up to work on during Christmas.
Many families read the Christmas story from Luke, and perhaps have the children act it out, on Christmas Eve. Some families place small pieces of paper in their nativities. On the papers are “gifts” that they plan to give to Christ in the coming year. Other families write a goal on a piece of paper and put them in their stockings to find the next year.
Our stories and traditions tell us who we are and how we fit into our family. They emphasize what is important to us. We are told by their fruits ye shall know them. The patterns, traditions, and stories that we share within our families create a unique family spirit.