Friday, March 23, 2018

Dad Had a Special Christmas Tradition

December 15, 2007 by  
Filed under Monthly Articles

Dad Had a Special Christmas Tradition
by James Snyder

A tradition, a friend of mine used to opine, is anything done more than once. He just may have something there. I love tradition; however, many people turn their nose up at the word as though it was a bad smell.

I have always believed tradition is the glue holding families together.

Many important traditions focus on the Christmas season. One tradition in our family centered on the annual Christmas tree. Nobody in our family can remember how this tradition started or even why. I have my suspicions, but some suspicions are better kept to themselves.

Through the years, our Christmas ritual seemed to grow. Each year seemed better than the previous. Of course, it could have been my imagination — but what is life without a vivid and expanding imagination?

According to my father, no self-respecting family would allow an artificial Christmas tree to invade their home. In his mind, it was sacrilegious and he went to great pains making sure our Christmas tree each year was worthy of our family celebration.

Our Christmas tree ritual had three primary elements to it.

The first element was cutting our own Christmas tree. This called for finding the right tree for our living room. One year, I remember, my father brought a tree home and could not get it through the front door. He ended up cutting off the top of the tree, which became our Christmas tree that year.

Most years, it took my father several months before he found just the right tree for our Christmas celebration. He started his tree quest around the first of September.

Years later I discovered this was just his excuse for getting out of the house and walking the fields. As I got older, I was allowed to join him in this all-important pursuit for the right Christmas tree.

“What are we looking for,” I queried my father.

“The best looking Christmas tree in the world,” he replied.

As far as I was concerned, one tree looked like another. I could never tell the difference. But my father always assured me, “Son, we’ll know it when we see it.”

And he was always right. I didn’t know what we were looking for but when we found it, we always recognized it. At least dad said so, and he would not lie about something so important.

When we did find the right tree, Dad and I always shared a moment of silence, teaching me the importance of admiring God’s creation.

Whether my father was manipulating my imagination or not I probably will never know. All I know is, every year we had the perfect Christmas tree.

Once found, the tree had to be cut. And not just any old way would do for dear old dad. “There’s a right way and there’s a wrong way to cut a Christmas tree,” he instructed me.

The second element of our Christmas tree tradition was setting it up in our living room. This, according to my father, was man’s work. Not set properly the tree could tip over and potentially ruin our Christmas. Dad and I worked the good part of an afternoon making sure the tree was properly set. I can still smell the fragrance of those freshly cut pine trees.

Decorating the tree was a different matter, which was mother’s and sister’s job. Once the tree was set, we would leave it in their capable hands.

The last element of our Christmas tree tradition was disposing of the tree in the dignity it deserved. Dad and I, after my mother and sister had removed all of the decorations, would move the tree out into the backyard. There we would set it up for the birds that chose to winter in our backyard. Then we would put all kinds of things on the tree for the birds — everything from seeds to peanut butter.

I asked about the peanut butter once and he smiled, “It’s for the squirrels.”

The importance of family traditions is not what a family does, but that a family does it together.

Some people have the idea that tradition in and of itself is bad. Of course, it all depends on the tradition under consideration.

Christmas is a time saturated with traditions of all kinds. I believe many people simply go through empty traditions during this time of the year, which carry no real significance to them. At Christmas time, they take a tradition out and after Christmas put it neatly back where they found it, to wait another year.

One tradition falling into this category honors the birth of Jesus Christ; God come in the flesh. A myriad of Christmas carols celebrate this wonderful truth.

However, when the Christmas tree comes down, this marvelous truth of God’s incarnation is put away.

The birth of Jesus Christ is a marvelous tradition filled with truth that changes our life and nourishes our spiritual growth day by day. Christ “come in the flesh,” is more than just a tradition celebrated once a year. It is a reality affecting every day I live.

The Bible says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 KJV.)

Now that’s a tradition worth celebrating.

Article Source:

About James Snyder:

James has been a Christian Pastor for 30 years. During that time he has written six books and hundreds of articles and essays. Currently he writes a weekly syndicated religious humor column.

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