Family traditions abound during Christmas festivities. Inside every woman resides a desire to pass on customs to her children and leave a legacy. We envision the “perfect” holiday with annual activities, laughter, and joy. Bring on the cookie making, tree trimming, matching pajamas, and carol singing. But what if your family doesn’t look like what you dreamed of as a child? What if it’s just you and your children and times are tough? Do you establish traditions or pack away that yearning and tuck it on a shelf?
Before you start turning all sad or comment on me being a dunderhead, I adamantly reinforce that you and your children ARE a family. Take advantage of every opportunity to create, share, and make the holiday meaningful. This is your chance to pour into them and instill traditions they will carry to their own children.
But allow me to share a new twist. Since I am single without children, every year I encountered a feeling of emptiness when I displayed all my decorations, many of them childhood memories and traditions. No children would hover excitedly around my tree, shaking boxes to guess their gift. Nobody would admire my decorations or want me to read them The Night Before Christmas. Is Christmas not as meaningful for me as a single, I pondered? Is this something else I have to surrender?
I heard a whisper, “Shelley, you don’t live here by yourself. I live here too. What traditions can we establish together at Christmas?” It was an eye-opening realization. Jesus inhabited my home all year but especially at Christmas. Therefore, it was important to institute something that was between us.
As I stared at my fireplace mantle a few years ago, I realized that my childhood stocking hung there alone, but what about Jesus? Where was his stocking? I raced to Hobby Lobby and purchased the perfect one, returned home, and hung it with care. Joy sprung deep inside that another stocking danced beside mine.
My next revelation prompted me to consider what gift I should give Jesus. I had spent time and money shopping for the perfect presents for others, but where was my gift for my Savior? Hello, it’s his birthday we’re celebrating. After many prayers, I decided that each Christmas I would ask Jesus what he considered the perfect gift I could give him.
Did he want my time? Was there a hidden sin I needed to remove from my life? Could I use my talents for his purposes in the next year? Then I would write his response on a slip of paper and place it in his stocking. This ritual has become my personal tradition. I pack away the stocking with the slip of paper still inside, and when it’s time to hang it next year, I pull out the paper to see if I followed through on his gift.
As I begin to decorate my house this season, I’m wondering what Jesus will want this year.
About Shelley Pulliam
Howdy! (A girl from Oklahoma has to use this as her greeting) I’m Shelley Pulliam, executive director of Arise Ministries and former teacher of hormone-filled 8th graders. But my real claim to fame rests in my award as second grade spelling bee champ and my recent gun-handling skills as I train to competition shoot. It helps me be on guard when Satan comes knocking. I’m a voracious reader and can frequently be found at the theater enjoying movie marathons where my record stands at six in one day. I’m a single, never married, who loves to pour into children at every opportunity. Let me know if you have any for sale. You can connect with me on social media. https://www.instagram.com/shelleypulliam/