This lovely kaleidoscope of color is compliments of one of my close friends.
She and her family have been making candy together every year for a long, long time.
It’s a deal-sealer for anybody who is courting one of the siblings or offspring.
I live vicariously through their stories of burning the prints off the ends of their fingers and other events around this annual get-together.
Our son-in-law’s family pulls off a big family cookie baking day once a year.
Again, I flip through the gallery of photos on Facebook and chuckle at pictures of a table full of little hands spreading as much colored frosting on themselves as the cookies.
I miss the days when our kiddos would do their traditional decorating of sugar cookies on newspaper spread all over our kitchen table.
As a child, I would help my mom bake a large variety of cookies that would be stored in empty ice cream tubs outside in the cold garage.
And I have to say I sometimes feel wistful to have this tradition.
But the reality is that this is not something that works for us as an organized event.
So I have had to come to terms with what does work and ….
Let. It. Go.
Traditions that center around food
First off, any kind of mass gathering for the purpose of baking, icing or whatever is a ship that has sailed.
With busy schedules and family spread from Texas to Illinois, we feel blessed for the few hours we have together on Christmas Eve to eat dinner and open gifts between Tia’s sets at the multiple services at our church.
And the year I asked our young family to make a list of all the cookies they wanted me to bake, they came up with…
So here are some things that fill that longing in me to use food to show the love at Christmas.
<3 We make room on the calendar to have different groups of people over during the month
Call me crazy but I love to cook for a crowd.
I think it is the southern in me.
I come from a long line of food-pushers so its fun for me to make up a menu and invite some people over.
Since we have gone to all the effort to put our Christmas trim on, we like to open up our home and calendar for extra fellowship.
It can be as simple as soup and you all bring a dish to share…heck…bring a plate of those cookies you made.
<3 Christmas Eve mini-loaf delivery
This was something I did to replace the desire to take pretty trays of Christmas treats to the neighbors.
I would make 4 or 5 batches of quick breads and wrap them in saran wrap and pretty ribbon.
On the days right before Christmas, Russ and the three Reimer would load them up and head out in the neighborhood.
There was no …. excuse me for this lame family joke….Reimer reason (…ok I will help you…read it “rhyme or reason”) for our method of delivery.
If you answered the door, a red-cheeked, runny nosed Reimer kid would shove a loaf in your hand and wish you a Merry Christmas.
The goal was to get them all delivered while I finished up some last minute tasks in peace and quiet.
<3 The only tradition that lasts is love
I well remember the last Christmas morning a group of young adult children gathered at the top of the stairs of the home we moved out of a year ago this month.
They indulged me one last time to wait until I could call them down to their egg casserole and monkey bread and stockings filled to the brim.
I knew it was the last time.
I sit here now with a grip in my chest and tears slipping down my cheeks.
Traditions are wonderful, but time takes a toll on all of them.
As the home-body child who longed to belong somewhere, I was raised in a home that moved a lot and traveled a lot and I had this idea somehow that when I grew up I could enforce a stability and finally have that story that includes “In our family, we always….”
But God has had other plans.
We have had holidays on the road and Chinese take out for Christmas day.
We have skipped years delivering those loaves and we have had some years when we moved in the middle of it all or buried loved ones in the midst of the preparations.
We have taken Christmas to the nursing home and worn our pajamas in the car to take Christmas to our daughter and son-in-law’s.
The only food tradition that we keep faithfully is we make every effort to spend it together around some table, somehow, somewhere.
How about you?
Embrace the unique traditions of your family and friends.
Talk about them with others.
Whether you have set ones or a crazy mix of memories like us, let’s thank God for the Bread of Life that is our daily food and feast on His love for us this season <3