Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Gilly Pad Christmas Traditions



My angels, a dwarf, and a honeymoon memory.


It seems as if it's the insignificant things that trigger rich memories of family traditions, like the common items that get brought out once a year to hang on our tree.  Look at those sweet little angel ornaments on my tree!  I don't see them as "my little angels" on a daily basis, though.  Honestly, because they're not.  Today, I've had to place a ban on the television because no one could agree on what to watch.  It became a "you vs. me" battle among the kids.  If one can't sacrifice their own agenda, no one gets what they want.  That's the way it's going down here at the Gilly Pad today!  Now back to my tree.  I love to see those precious little 5 year old faces in the center of that paper doily!  One particular ornament, the wooden sled, holds meaning for us as a couple.  I'm taken back to a time of sheer ignorance...I mean innocence and wedded bliss because we went to Maine for our honeymoon.  Honeymoons are so weird.  I have no other word.  We had a blast because mainly we really like each other.  But weird things happen.  I saw my husband brush his teeth for the first time...among other things!  Weird.
One of my favorite sets of ornaments to adorn our tree is the little plastic group of the seven dwarfs. My husband's family had a tradition of giving all the kids a Christmas ornament each year.  My husband's parents were both school teachers, and they would get odd jobs during the school break in order to buy presents.  Not a lot of money could be spent on ornaments, but it was a tradition, and they made it a priority.  So this simple, plastic ornament is a reminder of how his parents sacrificed in order to provide for their family.  Now that we're parents, we have such a better perspective of the sacrifices both sets of parents made and how meaningful our childhood was.  I love how family history grounds us and gives us a sense from where we've come.  It gives a us a sense of belonging that each of us has embedded in the depths of our soul.

Objects of old and new, dabbled in green and blue
Family traditions are really important.  It's something about being a part of something bigger than ourselves, isn't it?  It's really only through those traditions and family stories that our legacy continues.  What happens to a people when the story is no longer honored?  Without it, generations are forgotten, and we lose our family story.  Our "Elfie" has been a part of the Gilliland family for a couple of generations.  This is well before "Elf on a Shelf."  The kids don't actually see Elfie.  He comes to see the kids every night and places candy or some other unnecessary plastic object on their Advent calendar.  Since Elfie came to see my husband as a child, he has the honors of making sure Elfie does his job:)

The most popular story this time of year is so familiar, that we forget that we are a part of the story, as well.  We've let the story become irrelevant to our everyday existence.  The narrative has lost its place as truth and has been replaced by feelings, individual choices and trends of the moment.  The familiar story is about the birth of Christ, God made flesh!  We set up the nativity scene, without remembering that the baby became a man crucified, whose body and blood cleanses and sustains us.  Even His story is part of a much bigger story, and begins well before His birth in a manger.  The whole Bible is the story of the life and purpose of Christ, beginning in Genesis and threaded through a family.  Christ came to us in a family!  (Not a man who appears out from the solitude of the woods, or from a dream of a man (of course) that tells him upon death, he'll have his choice of ten virgins!)

Yes, the purpose of Christ's coming to earth in a family is so much bigger and better than Sweet Baby Jesus!  Spoiler alert:  Jesus is not a white English speaking American!  Jesus isn't a republican or a democrat.  Christ came on a mission, and lived a life of love and sacrifice.  His story hasn't sustained longevity on theatrics or cliff-hangers.  No, His story remains because He lived it.  He also brings us into His story, and we live in that story with him, now!  Our Christian religion is more than a tradition, its our heritage.  It grounds us and gives us a sense of belonging and security.  He is a covenant God and He remembers the promise He made with His family.  Jesus came to heal all of creation, to restore all things back to Himself.  His is the great story of reconciliation and peace!  All cultures everywhere are part of His great redemptive narrative found in the Scripture.  It's not just a priority to continue the story, it's an honor.  How wonderful to share and live in this story that has been sustained for thousands and thousands of years with people from every tribe and every nation! 

There's something about Christmas that also brings out my inner Texan!  This year I gathered all the sparkly, shiny things I could muster and placed them on my mantle.  I love my collection of mid-century modern vases!

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