Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas Memories

Before the holidays get out of hand here at the Troops, I wanted to tell you about something we do as a family each year.

In time for you to think about it and plan for it and include it in YOUR traditions.

It all started with the Coach's Mom and Dad. And their ten.

They would start a couple of weeks before Christmas, on nights when everyone could be home.

They would line up 13 candles (Mom, Dad, 10 kids and one tall white one in the center) on the piano.

Each evening would be one of the kids "turn" and the other kids would go around and tell what they appreciated about that sibling.

Then the sibling whose night it was would tell about when they were saved. Give their testimony. Some of the younger ones couldn't do this, of course.

After all of the kids were talked about and I guess Mom and Dad (although I don't remember hearing about that part), on the last night they would light the center, tall, white candle, and Papa would share the gospel.

I'm sure that's not exactly how it worked, I wasn't THERE, you know. But the kids have precious memories of that time. Mom even wrote down what the kids said about each other on index cards that she will bring out and read to us now and then. Priceless!

My family (parents and siblings and nieces and nephews) developed a similar tradition as we grew older. We sit together as families, with candles, and starting with the oldest (which I'm not - ha!) my brothers, sister-in-laws and their children from oldest to youngest tell two things. First, something they are grateful for that God did in the past year. Second, something they are praying for in the coming year.

Of course, most years ours have included the addition of a new baby or the anticipation of one! It is an encouragement to hear what God is doing in everyone's lives and what their desires are to see Him do. As each shares, they light their candle from the last person until the room is filled with candlelight. The children's words are particularly sweet and usually unexpected!

And Grandmother (my mom) writes it all down so we can read the years through, later.

Papa (the Coach's daddy) has revised the tradition a bit as the kids have left and now have families of their own. Now we gather on Christmas morning. He lights the candles all at once - reminding the 53 grandchildren of which candle belongs to whom (they are always trying to figure out which one is THEIR daddy's or mommy's). Then he asks a couple of the kids (his) to share their testimonies with the grandchildren. Then he shares the gospel and usually a story about one of the kids, the family, or something that has happened in the last year.

It's something we all look forward to for the whole year! I've only missed it once in 14 years (my first Christmas with the Coach was as a bride of one week!), when Daughter (#2) had a fever and the Coach took the other kids and left us to rest. Or maybe that happened twice.

Good grief - is someone ALWAYS sick around here?

You'd think we have a bunch of kids or something.

Just kidding.

Hope that you will add something like this to the special things you do over Christmas. Sharing with one another the Hope that is within you. Leaving a legacy for your children of recognizing and acknowledging God's moving in your lives and family.

I promise you will remember it long after the presents are forgotten.

(candle photo is from


Jo said...

How did you know that I was just looking and praying for something a little more ...... meaningful to include during our advent season. I love this!!!! We're doing it.

Judy said...

We gather on Christmas Eve and read the Bible story from Matthew, Luke or Isaiah (my husband chooses), I read a devotional story, then we go around the room with each person sharing our testimony. We conclude with prayer and we have communion. The grandchildren do not get tired of it, even tho every year they tell how they "got saved" ~

Cindy said...

Sounds nice! We want to include more things like this, so thank you for sharing!

Oh, and THANK YOU for the Christmas card! It really brightened my week! Why aren't you and the Coach in the picture though? :)

Zimms Zoo said...

That is such a neat idea. We may have to start something like that.

Jo said...

WOWWOW- Your Christmas card is precious!!!!!! Thanks so much. Beautiful Troops.

Hilary said...

I love that. I have yet to really establish a Christmas tradition within our family. I was hoping to start this year, but I think next year will have to be the beginning. Plus, with the kids so small, they might appreciate it more next year :-)

Thanks for sharing your families precious tradition.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your family traditions. How neat! Since we are actually going to be home this Christmas perhaps we can try something like this! Thanks for the picture- what a wonderful troop of children! Please check your e-mail if you have not recently.:)