My family is really big on holiday traditions, especially at Christmas. When I was growing up, we had steadfast traditions about what we ate on Christmas Eve, what music we listened to while decorating the tree, not to mention the famous concert my talented sister and I put on every year. It was epic. My dad faithfully recorded those concerts on our 1991 era VHS recorder….I’d love to have those in digital format! 🙂
We started a new tradition about 7 years ago that transformed our Christmas experience. On Christmas Eve, we’d stuff goodie bags full of my mom’s ah-may-zing decorated sugar cookies, candy canes, and other baked goods. Then we’d load those into big baskets and head for the hospital (we called ahead and made sure the hospital was ok with it). The waiting rooms are filled with family members who are not only unable to spend their holidays at home, but who are also hurting under the strain of their loved one’s physical needs. You cannot imagine the surprise and joy that appears on their faces when you simply express your sympathy towards their situation, hand them a bag of cookies and wish them a Merry Christmas! Some would open up and share their needs, and often welcome a moment of prayer. I always loved looking back on the room as we were leaving to see the group of people smiling and enjoying the Christmas cheer we shared.
Last Christmas, my family was on the other end of that scenario. My Gramma was admitted to the hospital at Thanksgiving and was discharged to my parents home as her hospice location in December. We were thankful she did not have to spend Christmas in the hospital, but the season was tainted with the stage four cancer diagnosis that took her life one month after Christmas. Now that we’ve been down that road, any chance we have to continue our Christmas Eve tradition at the hospital will be a special one.
This year, I’m embarking on my own Christmas tradition – I’m packing a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child! This will be my first one, so I’m excited to decide whether it will be for a boy or girl. I’ve started a Pinterest board to get some inspiration for my box. I’ll be hitting Target soon – the collection date is just a few weeks away.
Do you have any special family holiday traditions? Have you filled a shoebox for OCC?