On the First Day of Christmas

bethanyWe’ve been humming this silly little song with 12 numbers in our heads here on the LifeWay Kids floor, so the VBS team thought we’d get the song out of our heads and onto paper (at least electronically). So for the next 12 days, we’ll be telling your about some happy, funny, calamitous, and heartwarming memories, quirky traditions, favorite (and least favorite) gifts, and more, from our Christmas to yours! We hope you’re having a Merry Christmas season and pausing in the midst of the rush of church and school and family events to remember the hush of a stable long ago and kneel for worship at the throne of the Giver of the very best, and first, Christmas Gift ever.

As for my family, I struggled to think of steady Christmas traditions beyond food, because it seems like traditions I remember from childhood have died out and been replaced. That worried me until I realized that part of the reason for this is that in moving a lot for my parents’ work in the ministry, both with my dad as a pastor and my parents as missionaries in East Africa, we seem to adapt to our locations.

For instance, something I’ve grown to love now that my dad pastor’s in East Tennessee is the annual Rouse Road Christmas Parade, named for the road it traverses. This country road is home to a number of families who gather together every year to put together a parade for a growing number of community members who come out to watch. Our church always has a float, as do many individual families. Because showing horses is important to many of the residents, lots of people ride horses in the parade. The whole community then contributes to a huge potluck inside a nearby barn, horses looking on as we eat barbecue and sweet Christmas treats. Here are a few pictures from recent years:

Even the tractors feel a little Christmas spirit!

Even the tractors feel a little Christmas spirit!

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Rudolph the red nosed…horse?

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Some little cuties in a Christmas living room float

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My parents hanging out in the barn at lunch time!

The Rouse Road Parade usually freezes fingers and toes, but my family hasn’t always needed such warm coats at Christmas. In fact one of my favorite Christmas memories was our first Christmas as career missionaries in Tanzania, which is located in East Africa. Tanzania sits near the equator, and we were in the south, close to the coast, which meant for abundant fruit trees, no need for central heating and HOT weather. In fact December is at the peak of the hottest part of the year, the reverse of this side of the Equator.

 

That year we made Christmas t-shirts, learned that you can eat termites (I didn’t, but I’ve heard they taste like burnt popcorn) and I spent a lot of time trying to keep my new kitten out of the tiny Christmas tree my mom had managed to fit into our luggage. My parents worked really hard to make things feel special, even though they were far from normal or traditional, which was hard on my 13-year-old perspective. I’m thankful for parents who taught me that where Christ and family are, there is home, regardless of the drought circumstances outside and the lack of snow on Christmas day.

Making my Christmas t-shirt

Me, using lots of focus as I make my Christmas t-shirt.

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Wearing my Christmas t-shirt while cuddling my kitten on Christmas morning.

My parents and me one Christmas morning in Tanzania.

My parents and me celebrating Christmas morning in Tanzania.

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