Celebrating Christmas 2013

Posted on December 31, 2013 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Down Home in Mississippi

Everyone has Christmas traditions. As a child it probably involved traveling to Grandmother’s house and gathering with uncles and aunts and cousins for Christmas dinner. It continues to be characterized by hanging garlands and decorating the Christmas tree. Seasonal carols are featured music at church throughout December, and somewhere amidst all the special programs is the inevitable manger scene of a Christmas pageant. While Jesus was, and continues to be, the reason for the season, children would probably confess the highlight is when the gifts are opened.

Christmas2013-grandkidsMy family usually exchanged gifts on Christmas Eve, leaving Christmas morning to the excitement of discovering trinket-filled stockings and what Santa had left under the tree. Once the myth of Santa was revealed, presents had to be left until Christmas day. Now our children are grown and scattered and the growing number of grandchildren bring new traditions. A quiet, Christmas alone is a bummer, so we trekked, not to grandmother’s house, but to our son’s new home in Texas where his wife, Angela, enticed us with her holiday delicacies of toffee, maple fudge, and chocolate-covered coconut balls.

Christmas2013-dogThere the custom is hanging-out in pajamas, sipping coffee and hot chocolate while opening presents one-by-one. Zachary and Joseph are pictured sitting patiently waiting by the tree for everyone to awaken while Anna Grace discovers her wished-for bicycle. Even the dog is given festive attire for the day. A gourmet breakfast pizza with assorted pastries concluded the morning, and preparations began for an elegant late-afternoon Christmas dinner, joined by local church friends.

Christmas2013-SantaSamHaving been overseas for 23 years, we missed most of the big family gatherings when our children were small, and they grew accustomed to improvised celebrations in a Muslim tropical country where Christmas wasn’t recognized, and we often spent the day swimming at the beach. A skype call to our daughter’s family in a cold, Central Asian country assured us that commemorating the birth of Jesus was not being neglected.

Friends in the capital city had found a imported frozen turkey and sent it to them by taxi.

Christmas2013-Gloria&MiaSam donned a Santa Claus suit and played the role of distributing gifts. The day concluded with expat friends gathering for dinner and the children putting on the Christmas play. Apparently, from the picture we received Mia filled the role of Mary and Gloria was one of the angels. We pray that through their witness in a place where most have never heard of Jesus many will discover the significance of Christmas and the reality in their own lives of God becoming man. And that could be our prayer as well–that Christmas would not be a fun time of glitter and gifts packed away in boxes but a season that would invigorate our lives with an ongoing witness of a living Savior.

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