Christmas Traditions: As Varied as Families

Christmas Traditions: As Varied as Families
     At the Uthe home we celebrated Christmas in a basic fashion while I was growing up. We bought or made gifts to share with each other. It was just my father Jim, my mother Mary and my brother Marshal. So pretty "basic".

     Speaking of homemade gifts, one year my mother needed a small table for her laundry room. My father was not going to buy one so we set to making one.  Dad found a reused piece of countertop. With a little cutting and sanding it was just the right size.

     We still needed legs. In the basement of the house that we had just moved into, there was a pile of pipe in the corner that had been left by the previous owners. We could only find three pipes that were the same length and would work for the project. Dad was not about to buy the fourth piece of pipe.  Long story short, we made a good size three-legged table that fell over when too much laundry was put on it. It is the thought that counts! Right.

     We would read The Story, then ripped into the gifts on Christmas Eve. Until one year when Dad decided from here on out no gifts would be opened until Christmas Day. 12 more hours to wait, seemed like 12 days. Mom baked and prepared the food. Us boys would help with the cleanup.

     Beautiful memories of a beautiful, "basic" Christmas.

     Then I met Sherri.

     She is the seventh of seven siblings and born 10 years after her closest sibling. Christmas at the Larson house was not "basic". There were 20 to 40 people in every corner of Eldor and Vivian's home. These people were connoisseurs of every Christmas food and goodie. Fruit soup. Rommegrot. Lefse. Watkin's Party mix, two flavors. Carrot Bars. Cutout cookies, not the thick ones, thin and crispy. 7UP salad...lime. The list goes on and on.

     After eating until we could not anymore, it was time to sing! Those of you who know me know, I CANNOT sing. Oh I love to sing, but I cannot. God gave me many talents, but singing is not one of them. This went on from early Christmas Eve afternoon until sometime Christmas Day afternoon. Not the singing so much as the eating.

     This was not "basic" Christmas.

     Vivian and Eldor have since gone on to be with Jesus. It is funny how as I type this, the beautiful memories of a "deluxe"  Christmas come flowing back.  At times a "deluxe" Christmas would seem overwhelming. But today they are now just memories.

     Funny, most of the memories are not about the pack of socks or the new jacket received. Neither the "basic" or "deluxe" version bring back memories of particular gifts I received.

     Both versions bring memories of those that I spent the time with. Each person placed in my life by the very God that came to earth as a Baby. In families, sometimes it doesn't feel like our family members are always blessings. But for me they are. I have grown a lot personally in this area. In my early 30s, I finally realized I am different from some of my family.  Not better or worse, just different.

     I think that is a part of Christmas that I missed for 50 years.  The shepherds in the Christmas story were different. But in those times they were considered different; worse. They were poorly paid. This led the shepherds to be petty thieves. They were dirty and stinky because of their job. They were not welcomed in the villages or in the synagogues. They were total outcasts.

     An interesting part of the Christmas story is that the shepherds were the first to know of Christ's birth. I believe this is not by happenstance: God is making a big point here. He sent Christ here for all of us. Everyone. Even the family members that are hard for me to love. Even me, when I am the family member who is hard to love.

     Whether you have a "basic" Christmas or a "deluxe" Christmas, please remember the shepherds; that Christ came to save us ALL.

Merry Christmas,



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