We go to church on Christmas Eve, come home, eat dinner, then the kids open one small present. The remaining presents get opened Christmas morning. Before that we eat a small breakfast, I start on my first cup of coffee, we gather around the Christmas tree and I pray. Itʼs our tradition.
That tradition started when I was a child. There were no presents open at our house until my dad prayed, gave thanks to God, and read Luke chapter 2 through verse 20. Being very young, I remember thinking, “Iʼm never gonna get to open my presents, heʼs gonna read the whole Bible!” I didn’t think too much of the process at the time, I just figured it was what we did. After a few years, I began to think about it as just our tradition.
The process of a tradition has a life unto itself. It starts with learning of the tradition. The next phase in the process is endurance. Somewhere during the journey through the long endurance process we begin to find gratification and passion. Our priority pendulum begins to swing to the opposite side from our starting point.
What was liver and onions before ice cream as a child, becomes our favorite entree followed by a good cup of coffee as an adult. The priority of presents gives way to the priority of God and honoring Him first.
My dad read the Bible at Christmas for his family for over fifty years. Thatʼs a pretty long tradition. There were a few years as kids we werenʼt paying too much attention. After all this wasnʼt church…This was present opening time! I didn’t get the correlation between the two. I had no comprehension of the omnipotence of God. I have a little more understanding of it now. Which means the more I grasp the awesome power of the Creator and Sustainer of this world and life, I have no comprehension of the omnipotence of God.
Several times my dad would have to stop reading to reprimand my brothers, sister, and me. We were all a bit on the A.D.D. side. Couple that with Christmas excitement and, “Walla” you have a parentʼs nightmare. Weʼd be forced to move our sitting locations so as not to poke, push, or harass each other. My dad would finish reading Godʼs word and sit back to watch his children enjoy the fruits of his efforts. He usually got one present from my mom, literally a pair of sox or something comparable.
There were some tough financial years for many people along the way, my family was one of them. We always received something. I canʼt say the same for my mom and dad. My dad wonʼt be reading Godʼs word Christmas morning this year, at least not on this physical earth. Heʼs been taken home to perfect peace, joy, and rest in the presence of our Father.
The tradition started by my mom and dad will live on, even beyond my lifetime. Iʼll pray, read, and sit back and watch my children enjoy the fruits of my efforts provided from the hand of our Father. Thereʼs been some bickering and arguing along the way, but thatʼs what makes it real. My kids will remember their process from endurance to gratification and passion.
I’ve already watched a good portion of that process. May God grant me enough years to see the entire process in them.
I thank God for the tradition He born in my dad. Iʼll forever remember and cherish my dad’s prayer. He would lean forward, bow his head resting his elbows on his thighs as he clasped his hands in front of him, resting them on his knees.
My dad squeezed his eyes, furrowed his brow in earnest, then he would start, “Letʼs pray – Heavenly Father”…..