Holiday Traditions
Heart to Heart

 

      Traditions are defined as “delivery; the act of delivering into the hands of another. The delivery of opinions, doctrines, practices, rites and customs from father to son, or from ancestors to posterity; the transmission of any opinions or practice from forefathers to descendants… Most of our early notions are received by tradition from our parents.”

      Besides a solid Christian faith and a commitment to covenantal family living, there is nothing else that binds family members’ hearts more closely together than family traditions. For traditions weave a thread of continuity through our lives that serve as lifelines from one family member to another. It is these familiar and treasured activities that set a course of unwavering endurance from one year to the next, from one generation to the next, which set our families apart from other families, but bind us closely to one another throughout our lives.

      Throughout the month, we read scriptures pointing to Christ’s coming and those pointing to His second coming, discussing our anticipation and preparation for His coming. We encourage one another to prepare our hearts for repentance and resolutions that will bring us in closer alignment with His Word through prayer.

      For every season of the year, our family has certain favorite videos that we watch, so for the Christmas season, we intersperse our favorite holiday videos such as It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol, Andy Williams’s Christmas special and many more over the entire season.

      Using colored pencils, the children and I decorate our blank December calendar with pictures of gingerbread men, snowmen, candy canes, bells, ornaments, holly, and a nativity scene.

      Every year we head to Mannino’s Market in Cottlesville to select our trees, to visit with the Mannino family, and to shop. Afterwards, we go out to dinner.

      On another night, we put up our Christmas trees, nativity display, and decorations while we listen to Christmas carols and eat popcorn and drink soda. Once all the decorations are up, we turn out all the lights except for those on the trees, in the stable, and in the ceramic Christmas village so we can oohh and aahh at the beautiful sight while enjoying hot tea and cookies.

      On another day, we bake Christmas cookies all day long while listening to Bing Crosby, Andy Williams, and Nat King Cole sing our favorite Christmas carols followed by a lovely dinner and delicious cookies, of course.

      One day we decorate a gingerbread house from a kit purchased from either Schnucks grocery store or Michael’s craft store. We will also often bake gingerbread men.

      Every year we make several Christmas crafts. Often it is painting wooden miniature snowmen, Christmas trees, and ornaments. This year we are painting wooden gingerbread men. We also make other Christmas crafts like stockings, pine cone wreaths, pine cone Christmas trees, angel garlands, angel tree toppers, paper gingerbread men garlands, flour and salt ornaments, popsicle snowmen, felt napkin ring holders, and felt mice.

      Late one afternoon we go to Famous Barr in downtown St. Louis. From the parking garage, we proceed to their covered walk that bridges the garage to the store to gaze on the decorated street below us. From there we head to the elevator and take it to the top of the building. We shop on the top floor and then descend using their escalator, shopping on each subsequent floor until we reach the first floor grand finale where we all oohh and ahhh over the beautifully decorated jewelry and cosmetic counters topped with Christmas trees. After shopping on the first floor, we walk outside and around the building to view each of the decorated Christmas window displays. (We hope this all stays the same, since Macy’s has just purchased the Famous Barr stores.)

      From Famous Barr we walk across the street to the Metropolitan building to have our picture taken in front of their 40-foot Christmas tree. While singing Christmas carols, we walk to Adams Mark to view their gingerbread display and all their pretty decorations. Then it is back to Famous Barr’s parking garage to pick up our car so we can drive to Union Station where we walk around to view the decorations and stores. This, however, has not been the same for several years, since most of the great stores have moved. From Union Station we go to eat and then finish our lovely evening by driving through Anheuser Busch Brewery’s Christmas-lit drive to their Christmas tree. We used to get out there and walk along the path singing Christmas carols, but since 9-11 they do not let you leave your vehicle. How sad! If you go, be sure to turn out your headlights as you drive along the path.

      On another day we sit next to a very tall Victorian Christmas tree while listening to an afternoon Christmas concert at the Old Court House. Free concerts are given throughout the season.

      On another afternoon we enjoy High Tea at Adams Mark. Although expensive, this tradition is worth the money. Seated on velvet tufted chairs at a white linen covered table laden with china and linen napkins, we sip tea and nibble on tea sandwiches and pastries while enjoying the beautiful surroundings, making this holiday outing worth the price!

      One night we shop along St. Charles’s cobblestone Main Street to the delightful music of Victorian carolers. We also enjoy talking to the St. Nicholas’s from around the world. We end our evening treat by purchasing roasted chestnuts from the Dickens character roasting the chestnuts over an open fire. There are also carriage rides, which we enjoyed one year.

      Another night, loaded with Christmas cookies and a gallon of milk, we drive all over St. Louis to look at beautifully decorated homes while enjoying our sweets.

      During the season we also attend several Christmas concerts and holiday productions held at churches, the St. Louis Symphony, the Fox, or in Branson. We also try to attend other special events like holiday house tours, candlelight walks, and Christmas villages. Every several years we take the children on a special Christmas trip right before Christmas. Several times we have gone to Branson for their spectacular holiday productions. One year we took the children to Galena, Illinois to shop and ski. Another year we went to Kansas City for their light display, shopping, and dining. This year we hope to go on a shopping trip in Chicago.

      Each year we try to do something special for someone who is in need, whether it be an elderly person, a single mom, a family whose husband is out of work, or for children who would otherwise receive nothing. We all go shopping and select items to make their Christmas season special.

      Then on Christmas Eve, Jon reads about the birth of Christ in Luke 2, we sing Christmas carols, and then we take turns opening up our presents and thanking one another. Afterwards we enjoy hot tea and cookies.