With all the preparations for celebrating this blessed Season, many of us tend to overlook the true reason for the festivities.
I am always amazed at all the decorations that spring up in people's homes, the 'shop, shop until you drop' and the stress generated by all the seasonal effervescence...Yes, there are carols and much merrymaking at this time of the year and we enjoy those too.
But not to sound like (I hope) Ebenezer Scrooge, monetary gifts (made to assuage our conscience perhaps), the endless lists of gifts purchased in lieu of sharing real warmth with our loved ones are hardly necessary...
Why should we place (as the media would have us believe) a maximum gift amount on each recipient? Is it even worth sharing something if there has to be a monetary value on the gift?
Homemade gifts are by far the best way to go but than again, not all of us have the craft touch! Still, it is far more in the spirit of Christmas to share something we have actually made than purchased!
A day trip off island let me discover this year is no different than the others. Somehow in the hustle and bustle, frantic shoppers were looking for that special bargain to bestow on their loved ones, often grasping handfuls and dropping it in their shopping cart.
The only feeling I retained (after attempting to shop for much needed supplies in preparation for the stormy weather we are promised) was total dismay. It was difficult to enjoy the latest decorations for the shoving and short tempers of many shoppers!
Somehow the real reason for the Season gets often lost...
So I resolved to try once more to put Christ back in Christmas for our family!
Traditionally the Advent allows us to feel the Spirit of the Season and we like to remember childhood memories with SinterKlaas on the 6th of Decembre complete with speculoos and marzipan fruits.
And since no little kiddies figure in our immediate household, we then turn to setting up the mood in our home with a blend of native traditions, ours and others!
As far as I can remember there has always been an extra setting at our table to allow for any unexpected guest. ANYONE who has nowhere to go on that special night may enter our home and share our repast.
'I was hungry, and you gave Me food. I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink. I was alone and away from home, and you invited Me into your house'. (Matthew 25:35)
A more recent (2 - 3 decades) addition to 'unbreakable' traditions is the inclusion of a special ornament in our (tiny) tree, a Tree Trimming Tradition...It comes with a story...
'This is the Christmas Nail.
It is to be hung on a sturdy branch, a branch near the trunk, a branch that will hold such a spike without being noticed by well-wishers dropping by to admire one's tinseled tree.
The Nail is known only to the home that hangs it. Understood only by the heart that knows its significance.
It is hung with the thought:
'The Christmas tree but foreshadows the Christ-tree which only He could decorate for us, ornamented with nails as this.'