This week's memory is a bit different from the last two. It concerns a family Christmas tradition I didn't fully appreciate at the time, which has since become very precious to me.
When I was young, our Christmas morning didn't start with a mad rush to the fireplace for stockings filled with treats, or with a special breakfast, or a tinselly scrabbling through piles of presents. It started quietly, with a fire in the fireplace, siblings and parents in pajamas and bathrobes, and a Bible in every lap. Before we opened any gifts, we would read through a series of Scripture verses that spanned the story of redemption. We started in Genesis with the Fall, skipped ahead to the major and minor prophets who foretold the birth of Christ, read passages from the Gospels which pertained to His birth and nature, and concluded with various New Testament verses concerning His return and the future of His church. Each person had a "script" - a list of the verses to be read, with his or her part highlighted in red.
I can't remember how long these readings took - half an hour, or perhaps 45 minutes.You might think that as children we would either resent this practice or be impatient of it, but I don't remember ever feeling that way. Of course we were anxious to get to the gifts, but the readings were accepted as a normal part of the day. I do remember feeling excited (and nervous) about taking my turn when I grew old enough for active participation - much as one would before a school program or the giving of a speech.
As my siblings grew older and married, the Christmas readings were expanded slightly to include the new family members. And as, one by one, we began to move farther from home, the readings eventually stopped.
I don't remember very many of the Christmas gifts I received as a child, but I do remember those quiet Christmas mornings by the fire, and the verses we read every year. Though our family life was not ideal, and my parents made plenty of mistakes in our bringing-up, they were careful to pass on to us what they valued most - their faith. I think that's the most precious gift they could ever have given us.
I'm grateful to my Mom and Dad for teaching us, year after year, to focus on the real meaning of Christmas. I may not have fully appreciated it at the time, but I appreciate it now. (And I called them this afternoon to tell them so.)
|An old Christmas morning "script" in my sister's handwriting|
Next week, to finish this series, I'll be writing about the best Christmas I ever had (which took place not in my childhood but more recently). Do you have a favourite Christmas memory or tradition? If so, I'd love to hear about it. Leave a comment, or use the button from the sidebar and write a post of your own about a Joy of Christmas Past (or Christmas Present).
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