Celebrating the Christ Child: Tennessee Traditions
Trimming the Tree in Tennessee
"Christmas in Dixie..." Can't you just hear Alabama crooning it now. It won't be long now til we're digging out the ornaments and lights. Yahoooo!!!
It's that time of year we all anticipate, and it being at the end of the year makes the wait all the more special. It's the time to all get a little misty-eyed and sentimental. It is the time of year when even the biggest of Scrooges tend to melt. Christmas brings out the best in all but the most cynical, and it most assuredly brings out the decorator in us. For some, it is a mere strand of garland or evergreen wreath on the front door. For others, it is a Griswald affair that trips breakers in the whole neighborhood. What fun! One of my favorite traditions is trimming the tree.
Here in the deep South, we are a nostalgic lot. We like to remember Christmases past...the good old days, as it were. First and foremost, Christians recognize the reason for the season--the birth of Christ. If ever there were a reason to look to the past, He is. He was, He is, and He will be forever and ever. And so we hearken back to the days of Bethlehem and pause to remember just why we have this blessed day and blessed hope. The first Christmas brought hope into the world wrapped in a tiny bundle on a bed of hay. Our Redeemer, our coming King, the Hope of all who seek Him--what joy to celebrate this wondrous event!
Secondly, we like to remember Christmases past--the holidays of our childhood when life was simple, when our parents were still with us, when it only took a few things to really make us happy. We like to remember stringing the lights and placing the star atop the cedar boughs. We used colored, blinking lights on our live tree year after year. It never was the biggest of trees, for we had a small house; but it was always the most beautiful. When we began kindergarten, the homemade ornaments began making an appearance. Mother would cherish them and place them in prominent spots each year. Some would have photos of us. Some would be hand-painted. To this day, I place them on my tree and smile.
Often even among kinfolk there is a great debate over the lights. As I said, growing up we used the multi-colored blinking lights. I used to lie in the floor and be mesmerized by the pattern they made on the ceiling. Some of the more persnickety relatives prefer all white lights--non-blinking--and matching ornaments throughout the tree. Now, I'm not poking fun if that's your thing. I'm really not. But around my house it's all about color. I suppose we all tend to favor what we grew up with, though, and that's okay. I have never seen an ugly Christmas tree, I will admit. There are some more beautiful, more luxurious in their trappings, but the beauty in the tree comes from the soul. Does your tree emanate the spirit of Christmas? Is it you? Does it reflect your joy? It's really not about the tree, you see. It's about the JOY of the season.
And Here They Are...Those Alabama Boys
Some say having a tree is a pagan tradition. I say it's only pagan if you make it pagan. In our home, we have a tree because it reminds us to honor and celebrate our heritage as Christians. Christmas is a holy time. The significance of the tree? In the Christian faith, we believe that Christ was born into the world as Messiah, Savior, Redeemer of the world. We believe He came to die for us. And that meant death by crucifixion on a cross--a tree. Now we may not like to remember such gruesome details of the cross during this time. It is hard to imagine a tiny baby growing up to die such a horrendous death. Certainly, we love to focus more on His birth. But because of His death, we have atonement. Because of His sacrifice, we have life. Because of the star shining over Bethlehem, the wise men came to honor him. Because of the angels heralding the Good News, the shepherds came to honor him. The rulers of his day would seek to have all the baby boys executed. But somehow, some way, this blessed infant survived. It was in the master plan. This Holy child came into the world and an infant and left as a sacrifice for our sin. But it did not end with His death. He was resurrected and lives again. What joy to know that He lives!! And this, my friend, is why we can celebrate. This is why we don our lights and sparkles, our shiny baubles and play our Christmas music. This is why we have nativity scenes in our yards and strings of lights framing our homes. We are a happy people! We are a blessed people. We have a heritage and a hope.
Please share you Christmas memories, traditions, trees, decorations, favorite song titles, or scriptures with me in my comments section below. I would love to hear from you!