Today my guestblogger, my mom, finishes the story she started yesterday. (Just FYI, the pics are from 1979 and 1980--it's the best I could do with what I have here with me in Taiwan.)
It was a warm Texas December night and a very special one for us (ok – very special to me, the sentimental one!).
It was our first time decorating a tree with a child old enough to participate. We purchased a small Christmas tree from the local grocery store and carted it home on top of our Pinto station wagon. Ken crafted a tree stand out of scrap wood and we placed the tree on top of our end table, hopefully out of the reach of our toddler’s (Sarah’s) grasp. We placed the lights on the tree and Amanda and I began hanging ornaments. She was so excited we were celebrating! I was so excited – I got to keep the traditions!
It came time to turn off the overhead lights and plug in the Christmas tree lights. As soon as the lights on the tree began shining, Amanda, overcome at the beauty of what she was seeing, spontaneously began to exclaim “Oh! Oh! Glory to God in the Highest! Glory to God in the Highest! Glory to God in the Highest!” She raised her arms and began dancing around that small glowing tree praising God, repeating that phrase over and over just as the angels must have done on the first Christmas night.
I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed worship as genuine as the worship I saw that night! Worship from one with such a pure heart and pure motives – a precious three-year-old, who knew only that we were celebrating the birth of Jesus and that our Christmas tree was shining just as the heavens were the night of His birth when angels praised God and proclaimed His glory. And, she wanted to celebrate and praise Him in the same way!
That Christmas, God gave us just what we needed through the faith and actions of a three-year-old child. That experience changed our perspective on Christmas celebrations. We both realized that a Christmas tradition held its meaning only in the heart of the person participating in the tradition – you could focus on the warm and fuzzy feelings felt by reliving the tradition or you could focus on the original intent of the tradition or you could focus on the One for Whom you were celebrating as you participated in the tradition.
In our family, we choose to focus not on feelings or original intent, but on the Reason we were celebrating.
Each year, as we decorate our tree, it is a family tradition to tell the story of the night we worshipped with Amanda around our first family decorated Christmas tree. We seek to have the same worshipful heart as a three-year-old who, though only looking at the lights on a small Christmas tree, saw a sky filled with a host of heavenly angels proclaiming God’s glory at the birth of His Son and joyfully joined in the angels’ praises.
Now that is giving meaning to a Christmas tradition!
Amanda: Isn't that a great story!! I just LOVE it!! My mom is so right . . . when we look at our Christmas traditions--or any traditions for that matter--we can foucs on one of three things: (1) warm, fuzzy feelings, (2) original intent, or (3) Christ.
For me and my sister (I think she would agree with me), that now as adults, because our parents focused on Christ at Christmas, the "warm, fuzzy feelings" of the holiday didn't dissappear but were intensified. It is not that our traditions became stoic--how can worship of the long-awaited Savior be emotionless? No, the "fuzzy feelings" didn't dissappear, they just were not the reason we did the things we did.
As adults, my sister and I anticipate Christmas traditions because we are excited to worship the King of kings and Lord of lords; we look forward to being able to express our love for him in unique once-a-year Christmas ways. Through participating in Christmas traditions, we enjoy being able to proclaim "Oh! Oh! Glory to God in the highest!!" and "Jesus, we love you!!"
This is a repost from last year. Originally posted here.