RISK ROUNDUP—Each family has their own holiday traditions. While some traditions are handed down from the generations before, other traditions begin with a need or desire, or even on a whim—and then just get repeated year after year.
To get in the spirit of the season and help spread holiday cheer, our staff was asked to share three of their favorite holiday traditions.
Reading And Meditating On The Real Christmas Story
This is the one thing, I think, that if we’re not careful, we skip right past—the real reason for Christmas when the Lord established it.
And the way that we’ve been blessed to be able to go back to this and find the strength that God would have us to have from this story of the Babe born in Bethlehem.
The fact that He was born and the strength that that provides us in our daily lives. If it wasn’t for the fact… if He had never been born, we couldn’t draw from this and get through this world and have the blessings that God provides us.
Selection Of My Wife’s Christmas Present
I spend a great deal of time selecting my wife’s Christmas present. And I enlist my granddaughters. They’ll usually have some sort of idea. And then, together, we put all of this together and try to buy her a Christmas present that she will not only like, but will use.
Last year, with their help and advice, I got her a computer tablet. She has continued to use and enjoy her tablet all year long.
Seeing The Magic Of Christmas In My Great-Grandchildren’s Eyes
I’ve gone past seeing it in my grandchildren—they’re grown. Now I’m seeing it in my great-grandchildren—the magic that only a child can reach for in this Christmas season.
It’s about the whole season and everything that’s encompassed in Christmas—whether it be church-centered or gift giving—It’s just a magic time for them.
And we’re able to share that. And watching them kind of brings back some of the times we had when we were their age.
Sharing The Joy And Excitement
Probably my number one favorite tradition is buying gifts for friends and loved ones and watching them open them and seeing their expressions.
That’s the best part of all of it to me, as far as a tradition goes.
Of course, that’s not what Christmas is about—we all know that.
But I just love to share in the joy and excitement of others.
Especially when my baby sister, Allie, was little, because she is so much younger than me. I was 22 when she was born and it’s always been so much fun to see her wake up to Santa.
When she was little-bitty, I can remember one Christmas morning when she woke up and she looked around at everything and then looked up at us and said, “He shouldn’t have.”
It was great just watching her grow up—seeing a little one experience all that Christmas magic.
I also felt that way about my middle sister, Valerie, who is five years younger than me. Even when I got older, in my early teens, I would still get so excited about Santa Claus for her.
I’d jump up out of bed just wanting to see what he brought her.
I’d always make her sleep with me Christmas Eve night because she’s always been one who didn’t want to get up. So, I’d make her sleep with me, so I could at least make her get up.
One year, when I was 12 or so and didn’t believe in Santa anymore, I still got so excited.
I woke up and I was saying, “Wake up, wake up, we gotta get up!” And I’d somehow gotten my feet tangled up in the blanket, so when I went to get up out of bed, I just fell head first out of bed and hit my head on my nightstand.
Valerie has always laughed about that, saying, “Here you are, nearly grown, and you don’t even think Santa is real, but you’re still so excited.”
And she was little and thought Santa was real, so she’s supposed to be excited and ready to go, but she didn’t even want to get out of bed.
Family Time On Christmas Eve
Another favorite tradition is just getting together with family. Even though we all live in the same city, the Haney’s on this side of the family only truly all get together once a year. We do see each other Thanksgiving, but it’s not such an extended visit.
This is the one day when all the cousins and aunts and uncles get together and have the best time—playing games and cuttin’ up.
And I’ve always loved that day. It’s Christmas Eve and we just stay at MaMa and PaPa’s for hours. And we just have the best time.
There are six first cousins, plus the aunts and uncles, and Mama and Papa, and the new little ones—it’s a houseful—around 20 to 25 of us. And we just sit around and joke and play games and just stay for hours and hours.
Even if you had to leave, to go to a significant other’s family, you came back. You didn’t just stay gone. You went over there and did what you had to do so you could get back.
I’m really looking forward to this year’s get together.
Secret Santa Shopping
From the time we were little, mother was involved in the Coterie Club and they would sponsor a kid at Eldridge Children’s Home or through the Hamilton First Baptist Church’s youth group or DHR (Department of Human Resources). So, we would always get a kid to buy for and I’ve always enjoyed that.
I loved going out and buying things for kids or individuals that might not have a Christmas, if you didn’t go do some of those things for them.
Last year, I got to take Allie to do her Secret Santa shopping and we had the best time. We had three little kids to buy for and we had just a blast buying and picking out things for them.
It’s a really great tradition—going out and doing that every year.
Going To PaPa And MaMa’s House
As a child, we always went to my grandparents for Christmas where we’d meet up with my cousins and show them everything that Santa Claus had brought us.
We’d get up at home and see what Santa had left and open our presents. We got mostly toys and clothes. Then, when I was about 11 or 12, I got a .22 Rifle. I was just so excited. I still have that rifle.
Then, mid-morning, we would go down to PaPa and MaMa’s house and spend the day, getting there around lunchtime and coming home that night.
Always, Papa would have a peppermint log that was about 3-inches thick and about 15-inches long. It was a great ‘ole big thing. On Christmas morning, he would open it and break it up. Papa shared it with everybody that wanted some, so it would be almost gone before lunch.
The Gift Of Giving
One of the best Christmases I’ve ever had was the year that I went with an old friend from school to deliver turkeys and other items to several families in need.
It was just going to visit and telling people you love them and giving them something they needed.
The things we gave were everyday-type items, like knives and ropes, but also each family got a turkey.
It was an awesome way to spread Christmas cheer.
I’d always heard it, but until you experience it, you can’t understand it. People can tell you all the time the sky is blue, but until you see the blue sky you don’t understand.
I’d always heard it’s much better to give than receive, but I’d never understood that until the Lord let me give something to somebody who didn’t have as much. After that, you truly understand what the Lord meant when He said that.
The No-Gift Exchange
Most of the time, my wife, Tonya, and I don’t exchange Christmas presents. We know of several other couples who also have this tradition.
Like them, we save that money and then go on a trip or special vacation. But it’s a trade-off and some years, we’ll make one big purchase instead.
On our Christmas list, we have six children (including their spouses) and eight grandchildren.
There is a reason they are called “Grand” children. You can’t love your grandchildren any more than do your children, because you love your children with your whole heart.
The difference is—in your children you see your inadequacies and your failures and where you messed up. And with your grandchildren, you don’t see that. You just see pure love—which is straight from Christ.
Viewing The Christmas Lights Together
One of my earliest memories was our family’s holiday tradition of driving through certain neighborhoods and seeing all of the Christmas lights together. “Ooh’s and Aah’s” from four children and two adults filled our vehicle—similar to the sounds made at fireworks shows.
When my son was a boy, we recreated this tradition and its magic. There was even a special home in our town where the family went all-out with its decorations. They festively trimmed their home, each tree and every shrub. They even created massive stand-alone structures to string more lights on.
This year, my son and his wife will take their 15-month-old son to see some Christmas lights near their home. He seems to enjoy lights, and responded strongly to lights and shadows even as an infant. I can imagine his joyful little face reflected in the glow of Christmas lights.
And so the tradition continues.
It’s Beginning To Look A lot Like Chili
When my son was small, we always traveled to visit family and friends at Christmas. Trip times varied, but the closest was half a day away, while others involved hours of plane travel and several airport stops.
When he was older and playing sports that involved Christmas tournaments, we had to stay a little closer to home. Since I was most definitely not the cook that my mother, aunts or grandmother was, I came up with the bright idea one year to make some chili for Christmas.
It turned out great and a new tradition was born. We even got together to create holiday chili for several years with a couple of his teammates and their mothers, as we’d become friends while cheering on our sons from the bleachers.
Chili is a great time-saving idea. You can cook it up on Christmas Eve and then just spend all day Christmas playing with the kids. Chili is also one of those dishes that tastes even better the next day.
Do You Hear What I Hear
I don’t remember when I started my personal “Best Christmas Song Contest,” but I’ve been doing it at least a decade and it’s become one of my favorite traditions.
Each year, I listen carefully to narrow my choices down from all my favorites and the winner has to be chosen before or on Christmas Eve.
Many times I’ve said, “That’s the best song this year,” only to change my mind the next day when I hear another great Christmas song. But usually, there seems to be one special song that stands out above all the rest.
Unlike the usual shopping, crowds, and hustle and bustle; this silly song contest is just a lot of free fun for no good reason! It’s also interesting to ask others what their favorite Christmas song is. You may be surprised by the answers.
Some of my past winners include: “Let There Be Peace On Earth,” by Vince Gill; “Christmas Canon (Pachelbel’s Canon in D),” by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra; “Let It Be Christmas,” by Alan Jackson; “Angels Among Us,” by Alabama; and “Breath of Heaven,” by Amy Grant.
One year, I even selected “The Grinch,” by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. A couple of my local favorites were: “Blue Christmas (Instrumental) by Wild Bill Emerson and “Christmas In My Hometown,” by Sonny James.
It’s still too early to name this year’s top hit, but “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer,” by Elmo & Pasty seems like a good contender for sentimental reasons. This is only my second Christmas to be a grandmother and one of my first thoughts after hearing the blessed news (after “Thank you, Lord”) was, “Yeah! Now I can get run over by a reindeer!”
We hope you enjoyed reading this special blog post. We certainly had a great time strolling down memory lane.
Please make sure to take some time during this busy holiday season to enjoy your own traditions or find the fun in making new ones.
All of us at American Risk Managers sincerely wish you “The Merriest of Christmases and the Happiest of New Years!”
“For Unto You Is Born This Day In The City Of David A Saviour, Which Is Christ The Lord.”
(Photo Credit: Pixabay)