It really is beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Well…actually, here in southern Africa it looks nothing like my childhood Christmases (it’s summer here, after all—though, all the rain and overcast skies lately mean it doesn’t look like Christmas generally does here either…my sense of what the holiday should look like is completely bamboozled this year), but it’s definitely beginning to feel like Christmas! That magical, heartwarming sensation unique to this time of year has found its way into our home once again, regardless of what it looks like outside.
Before I get too ahead of myself, I should probably clarify one thing: my family LOVES Christmas! Yes, we’re those people. Thanksgiving is another one of our favorite holidays in its own right, but partially because it acts as a herald of the most wonderful time of the year. The Christmas music starts playing in our house the day after Turkey day…if we last that long. The Christmas tree and other decorations go up that weekend, including the new tree ornament I’ve made an annual tradition of giving each of us. Our kitchen produces a bakery’s worth of delectable holiday treats. We bring out our special stash of Christmas books. The twelve days leading up to Christmas each have their own special Christmas-related activity. And we’re usually plagued with a visit from Evil Elf Elvin, who always steals one of the gifts and leaves obnoxiously rhyming clues to find it. We really try to milk the season for every iota of Christmas cheer we can squeeze out!
Out of all the Christmas traditions we have (and continue) to establish, one of my favorites is the Christmasification—yes, that is a technical term—of our weekly family movie nights. While the basic format of popcorn and apple slices for dinner while we watch a film together remains the same, we make some holiday-themed tweaks to add some extra Christmas spirit. The most obvious change is the movies we watch; Christmas movies, of course! The extra popcorn gets turned into what we have dubbed Christmas Corn (i.e., a peanut butter/honey mixture drizzled on the popcorn with almonds, chocolate, coconut, etc. add ins). Seriously, this stuff should probably be illegal because I may just be addicted. By holly jolly golly it is just so stinkin’ good! The usual “special drink”—just some yummy fruit juice—is replaced with my wife’s homemade, clean peppermint hot chocolate. And, of course, the mood lighting comes from the tree and the twinkle lights hanging around the living room. *Sigh* So cozy and wonderful…is it Saturday yet?
Convinced that we’re a little Christmas crazy yet? That’s cool; we embrace it. I share all of this, though, because as a lover and teller of stories, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the kinds of stories we tell through our holiday celebrations. The traditions we practice, along with the emotions they stir up in us, can say a lot about what we value and hold dear. This is true in all seasons of life, but I think it’s often heightened and put on display a bit more during Christmas. So, what does our (crazy) love of Christmas say about our family? Outwardly, I can see how it could easily be misconstrued as getting caught up in the hustle and bustle. Internally, though, each activity we do is steeped in language and expressions of togetherness, family bonding, generosity, gratitude, and love. A great deal of intentionality goes into creating a meaningful family culture that we want to develop and perpetuate. We fill ourselves with all the holiday cheer we can in order to pour it out and lavish it on one another and others. We take it as an opportunity to reflect on how blessed we’ve been in the past year and express our thankfulness for those blessings. And yes, as Christ-followers, our gratitude to God for giving the gift of Immanuel is the thread that weaves through our Christmas merriment and holds it all together.
As a voiceover artist, it’s easy to get lost in all of the various stories I tell through gigs and auditions. So many messages. So many perspectives. So many creators’ hearts and souls laid out on the page. It’s good to take a step back and be reminded what story I’m telling in the way I live my life, dwell with my family, and celebrate and share my joy.
What holidays or events mean the most to you, and why? What story is your life telling the world? Until next time, friends, keep telling stories. And from my crazy Christmas-loving family to you, Merry Christmas.
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