Holidays, Traditions, Families, Celebrations… it is that time of year. Let me be honest, sometimes I have to put on my holiday cheer face when all I really want to do is cuddle up with a big blanket and a steamy cup of frothy cocoa and listen to the cracking sounds of my Bing Crosby LP spin over and over.
Have you ever heard the story of the woman who cut the ends off her Turkey before cooking it for Thanksgiving? For years she would make a mess cutting into her raw bird to cut the tips off and put them in a separate pan in the oven. Her husband asked her why she did that and she responded, “This is how my family has always done it”. The first Thanksgiving at her parent’s house her husband noticed that her mom did, in fact, cut the ends off the turkey. For years this was done as standard practice. They had a daughter and when she was 5 and began helping in the kitchen at Thanksgiving, she learned the family tradition. That year great granny Smith came to Thanksgiving dinner. Seeing this opportunity to finally understand the tradition that his wife held so dear, the woman’s husband asked her grandmother where the tradition came from. Confused, she asked what he meant. He pointed at the turkey missing the front of the breasts and the legs which were both in another baking dish on the table. She began to chuckle to herself and said, “oh my dear, when we were first married our oven was too small to fit our turkey, so we cut the ends off”. For years, her daughter saw this and thought this was just the way things were done, then her daughter’s daughter and so on. Now as funny as that story is, it is a poignant reminder that traditions are more about connecting us to our family than about the holiday they represent. Traditions are paramount to who we are as humans. We all make daily choices impacted by the traditions of our families.
As a parent, the best part of the Holidays is the traditions and festivities that bring my children deeper into the heart of my memories. Seeing a light inside of them as my favorite things become their favorite things. My husband has this old music box that his grandfather gave him, it’s a xylophone with Christmas characters holding mallets, it is very loud, from my son’s first Christmas he has loved it. And I have loved watching my husband beam with pride as his kids enjoy this music box that he too enjoyed as a boy with his parents and his mom with her parents. When my husband and I got married, we learned a lot about the way each of us approached the holidays. What was important to each of us and what we could forgo to make room for the other’s traditions. There were honestly things I’d never heard of that have become a staple to the holidays now and things he’d never thought of are now second nature when thinking about the holidays.
Perhaps the biggest decision for us was how to honor a holiday that I held very dear, and he’d never celebrated. In fact, in my almost two decades in the United States I can say that I’ve seldom met someone who celebrates Epiphany, or “Three Kings Day” and it really perplexes me. With our children following the Wise men’s journey across our home to find the manger and the kings bringing three gifts of their own- it has become the most important holiday in our home.
We celebrate Epiphany because it is the origin of the gentile faith in Christ. Up to this point, those who had acknowledged Christ’s Lordship were all Jewish. This is the day that we can celebrate that Jesus is not only king of the Jews, but KING OF KINGS. Matthew 2-“…they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts…”
Romans reminds us that “it (the gospel) is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Gentile.”
Through epiphany, Jesus is revealed to all people and brings His message of Hope and Salvation. God, the Father, welcomes us into his family as coheirs with Christ adopted for all of eternity into His family. So, rejoice with exceeding great joy! For the wise men have arrived to worship Christ as King over all.
Whether your family will hang stockings, bake cookies, go caroling, or follow the Wise Men’s journey; we hope you’ll find ways to connect your families’ traditions back to Christ and find the joy in being together this Holiday season.