A new family tradition for Christmas
|As I reflected on my own past Christmases, I got a bit nostalgic. I have 4 grown children (two of my own and two steps) and one teenager still at home. Is it too late to add another tradition to our family? If Christmas really is for 'kids from one to ninety-two,' then I say 'yes.' So here is mine. It's called Gift Doubling.
Does it mean more gifts, you ask. Nope. Re-gifting. Not exactly. My desire - and really the way in which I conceived of the idea for this tradition - stems from the true meaning of Christmas, itself.
And what is the true meaning of Christmas? To me, it is two things.
First of all, Christmas magnifies the very best in each of us. We find we have a little more patience at Christmas. A little more understanding. A little more tolerance. A little more forgiveness. It's what the Christ Child tried to share (and spread) in His life as a human.
Secondly, this most-precious gift is big enough for everyone to receive as much as they desire. This gift isn't measured out according to worthiness, importance or affluence and that attribute inspires hope and joy. We have as much joy in others receiving it, as we do ourselves.
So with these two thoughts, I set my head (and heart) on developing a new family Christmas tradition that reflected those two aspects of Christmas.
If I come up with a new tradition, I told myself; it must be about more than lights, music, bows or food. I want it to be genuine and reach beyond the lives of just my immediate family. And I don't want to force anyone to participate; it must be entirely voluntary.
I started getting worried. This was going to be a big challenge. If I thought about it too much, I'd probably either talk myself out of it or at least dilute what I really wanted a new holiday tradition to become. I decided to put it on the back shelf of my mind and to trust that I would conceive of it when the time was right. That time turned out to be yesterday.
After having Christmas away from home the last couple of years, we decided to host Christmas ourselves. I had to think through how to accommodate everyone and all the typical Christmas activities.
The onslaught would begin on Dec. 21; ten guests over the course of 2 1/2 weeks. It was highly probable that our guests - several of whom were flying in - would likely do their Christmas shopping after they joined us. This meant gift-wrapping at home. Our young adult children are your typical last-minute shoppers. The probable picture I saw was the corner of our master bedroom transformed. I could almost see the cyclonic aftermath. I'd be picking pieces of tape and bits of ribbon from the carpet for days. Not this year, I told myself. This year, that will be done in the utility room which I just cleaned out.
It's not a bad place, really. Our home is built into a hill on two sides, so the utility room has a nice large window facing east and looks out over a lovely pond. I tell you this so you'll know that the room is not the dark, dreary, musty place you probably envisioned.
I set out a 6-ft table and a couple of hard-back chairs and began organizing all the package wrapping and decorating supplies I could find. I found boxes, bags, ribbon, tissue paper, glitter wire, glue and no less than twenty rolls of wrapping paper. (What can I say, when it's on sale after Christmas for 75% off, I just can't resist.) I also found five boxes of Christmas cards. It was in the midst of this "staging" that the idea came.
What if, instead of a hurried, no-meaning process, the wrapping experience could be the tradition. Mmmm. What if in exchange for the use of all my supplies, I asked the wrapper to reach out to an old friend, long-lost acquaintance, an unforgiven family member or even a stranger with a hand-written Christmas card.
If I provided the postage, I reasoned, and the gift wrapper were willing to take the time, someone else's Christmas (not the gift's recipient) could also be a little merrier.
So, that was it! I had all the wrapping materials anyway... For a 49-cent investment on my part, I would turn the wrapping process into a blessing for two people. So, after staging all the supplies, and equipping the space with scissors, tape and a nice assortment of pens, I posted the following poem in plain site of all who would visit the space:
Feel free to use these wrapping supplies,
The boxes and bows you find here.
But a simple request, while you visit this mess
To make your gift doubly sincere.
Consider another who has crossed your path,
A co-worker, helper or friend
Pick up a card, and write a few words
To comfort, encourage or mend
Not a mass-produced pic or an iPhone message
But something you took time to write.
They’ll know that they’re thought of, because of the fact
That you stopped to consider their light.
Good cheer is reflected and in others infected
Sometimes by the smallest conviction
It’s what the season’s about, so we hope you’ll take part
In our Gift-Doubling Christmas tradition!
It's not a group tradition but something we can all enjoy in the quietness of our own hearts. I hope this becomes a tradition my family wants to keep.