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A few years back my Grandma brought a birthday cake to our annual Christmas Eve party. I'm not sure the frosting was even red or green. I guess it didn't have to be. 

The cake sat in the fridge while we finished eating, opening presents, and playing "the reindeer game" (yes, we wear antlers on our heads). As people began to pack up, Grandma asked if we could sing Happy Birthday to Jesus before leaving. This was new territory at the party but no one was going to second guess Grandma. So we turned down the lights, lit candles, and hit the play button on the Brooklyn Tabernacle song "Happy Birthday Jesus."

And then we quietly joined our voices with those of sweet children singing Happy Birthday to Jesus. I looked around and couldn't help but notice the wonder in the eyes of my youngest cousins. And I saw the tears in my Grandma's eyes. And I heard the sincere voices of my aunts and uncles. And it was a holy moment.

The song ended and we blew out the candles. Those of us who weren't too full managed to eat a few bites of cake. And then we packed up and went home. 

But the birthday cake came back to the party the following year. And the year after that, too. And now we all look forward to this simple opportunity to celebrate the birth of our Savior. The best Birthday party ever. 

I'd love to know, what are some of your most meaningful Christmas traditions? Sometimes the simple ones are the best ones! 


 In my family, mother and siblings and my sister's family, traditions have changed over time.  When we were kids, my maternal grandparents would come over on Christmas Eve, and after supper my grandmother would give us our baths while my parents hastily got the presents under the tree and pretended that Santa had dropped them off and was on his way to the next place on his list.  Back then, I was not a Christian, and neither of my siblings became believers then or since.

Later on, we did things differently.  But what changed our traditions drastically was my sister living with her partner 20-odd years ago.  From then on she went to celebrate Christmas with her in-laws on Christmas Eve, and with us on Christmas Day.  Fortunately, we all live in the same city, so it doesn't pose major logistical problems to see both sides of the family on following days.  We often also celebrate New Year's Eve together with my sister's in-laws.  My sister's relationship with her partner is stable, and although they are not officially married they consider themselves to be.  

My mom attends mass at her church on Christmas Day, and I attend the Christmas Day service at the Montreal CRC.  Then the two of us have lunch together at my mom's place, and in the afternoon we usually prepare whatever food we have committed ourselves to bring to my sister's place get all the stuff together and take it to her house for supper.  Since my mom and I are the only ones who are practicing Christians, the events from then on are non-religious.

Love this, Staci! I remember getting together with cousins, uncles and aunts, grandpa and grandma, having a meal (potluck) , and then singing together - every Christmas carol we could think of and anything else that was requested. My uncle played the piano by ear, and he could play everything we threw at him - hymns included. My large (extended) family had a family favorite that was sung at every occasion called "Every Day With Jesus" - and we'd often end with that (or the Doxology).  Everyone stayed around the table and sang - young and old - melody and harmony - it was a sweet and special time. (seriously - it would go on for a long time - 45 minutes to an hour). I don't remember a single Christmas present I received from that party, but I remember the holy moments of making music together!

This reminds me of a Sunday School program our children were in --probably 20 years ago.  It included decorating a birthday cake for Jesus. Each item that went on the cake--frosting, candles, different colored candies, etc. had a spiritual meaning--with a Bible verse and song, but I can't quite remember them all.  I'm sure some creative person could easily put this together!  It was very meaningful for the children, and also the adults. At the end of the program we sang Happy Birthday and then all had cake together.  For many years after that, while the children were still in the nest, we made a birthday cake for Jesus every year at Christmas.

In 1988, I responded to a similar request from a local newspaper to share memorable Christmas traditions or events.  This was my story and it refers to the former tradition of the Sunday School Christmas programs, in the CRC denomination as well as others, always being presented on Christmas Eve.


                                                   CHRISTMAS IN THE '50s

I remember Christmas in the '50s

     when the children's program took place on Christmas Eve,

     not on a Sunday or two before,

     when it was traditional to go home after the program and open presents.

Ah, those programs!

     girls in dainty dresses, boys in ties,

     adorable speeches, cherished carols.

But the highlight, yes, the highlight of the evening in our church was Rev. B.J. Haan.

     At the end of the program he'd walk proudly to the front of the church.

     He'd turn his head from side to side, beaming at everybody.

     He'd rub his hands together and say, "My, my, my.  That was the best program we ever had!"

     Then he'd go on to ask, "How many kids are going home to open presents?"

     After a nearly 100% show of hands, he'd ask, "Did you all buy presents for your parents?"

     Another good show of hands and then came his favorite question,

          "How many of you bought your dad a tie?"

One year the inevitable happened.

     A little Douma girl, on seeing her sister's hand raised,

          spoke up -- hurt and angry--

          "BETH -Y ! !  You TOLD! ! !"

     While she choked back the tears, the audience stifled chuckles.

Rev. Haan rushed into his closing prayer.

And it was over.  The elders and deacons handed out candy

     while Mrs. Gerritsma played the organ recessional.


I loved Christmas in the '50s.

I loved the sparkle of exuberance Rev. Haan displayed.

I wonder if he got a tie that night.

I wonder how many dad's will get ties this year? !





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