For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him. Matthew 2:2
Our Christmas traditions demand a flurry of activities, some of which can be quite stressful. This year, I stayed clear of the frenzy at the shopping mall. My yearly gift-buying spree ended when the American economy crumbled in August 2008. Since my adult sons no longer believe in Santa Claus, I only put up a Christmas tree and decorations when my spirit craves the festivities.
When my siblings and I were kids, our mother did not put up the Christmas tree and decorations until Christmas Eve Night after we were all asleep. It was a magical moment to wake up on Christmas morning to find a tree with presents stacked beneath it.
In the United States, some homeowners go all out in decorating the exterior of their homes and yards. The Christmas lighting extravaganza holds its own magic for me. My childlike fascination for festive lights has never waned with age.
When it comes to food, every region and country has its own traditional specialties. In Guyana, I enjoyed eating pepperpot with bread at breakfast and black cake at teatime and in every home we visited during the Christmas Season. During the years we lived in Brazil, I carried on our Guyanese Christmas tradition of making black cake and, for breakfast, began having coffee with Panettone – an Italian sweet-bread popular in Brazil at Christmastime. My sons and I buy our favorite brands of Panettone at the Brazilian Shop in Culver City. As my sons no longer appreciate black cake, I have stopped making it and now enjoy the American Christmas fruit and nut cake. Christmas Dinner has its own magic when family members, living apart in faraway cities and countries, come together to share a meal.
A lot more happens during this festive season. There are parties and gift-giving in workplaces; school Nativity plays for those who have young children; Christmas caroling; Christmas Eve Midnight Mass; and a variety of festive shows. We even have Christmas songs and movies.
We can get so caught up in all our preparations, activities, and events that we lose touch with the essence of Christmas: a celebration of hope and joy at the birth of Jesus. You may or may not accept Jesus as Christ our Savior, but this spirit of hope and joy at Christmas was passed on to us through the generations in our traditions of giving and receiving, forgetting our differences, and letting our goodness shine through for all to see. Our transformation in revealing our inner light is the true magic of Christmas.