With a daughter-in-law who was raised Buddhist and Methodist, and dear friends who are Muslim, as well as Jewish, Catholic, Bahai and an assortment of Protestants, each with their own unique traditions and holidays, I am awed by their different traditions.
What is your favorite holiday? How does your family celebrate it? What is your favorite part of your holiday?
Growing up I never really thought we had many traditions centered around the Christmas holiday except to be home for the holidays. No matter where we were, we tried to come back to eastern North Carolina sometime during the holidays. Here Christmas might be warm enough for short-sleeves or cold enough to hope for snow. One Christmas, the year my oldest son was born, it went from high sixties to a windy freezing in a matter of hours.
As a child, Christmas eve was spent at the church across the street performing in the Christmas Pageant. As a teenager, I wrote and directed the Christmas programs, sometimes cobbling together bits and pieces from other plays and pageants to create something to fit our small cast.
After the program, Santa would arrive to the ringing of the church bells. He would hand out the gifts that had been left under the big cedar tree. Everyone in church would then be handed a brown paper bag with an orange, an apple, some candy and nuts from Joe Deal’s store and later, a gift from the church. Those who participated in the play would be given an additional small gift such as gloves or a hat.
Most of my favorite memories center around that old church and the people in it. Hayrides on the back of an old farm truck, singing Christmas carols with the youth group and a few brave adults, returning to the church to drink hot cocoa and eat hot dogs and homemade fudge and rolled cookies. I miss those days, I tortured my boys with parts in the Christmas program. Unfortunately for them, they often participated in three, sometimes four Christmas programs: my home church where I was often in charge, in-laws’ church where their aunt was in charge, my grandparents’ church were my aunt was in charge and when we started attending another church as a family, we still tried to participate in all of them until the boys staged a coup. Because I enjoyed being a part of the holiday programs, I thought they should too.