Do you have any Christmas traditions you hold dear that bring the true meaning of Christmas to light?

We started a new tradition in our family a few years ago called “Elf on a shelf”. This is where an elf shows up to your house on December 1 and then continues to move around your house hiding in different places for the kids to find. You are not able to touch the elf or she will return home. So each day mom and dad have to sneak the elf to a new location while the kids are at school or in bed. Our elf is called “Snowflake”.

Well, this year Snowflake brought along three cousins as well! It has been quite a challenge to keep those little critters on the move and finding new places to hide. In addition, our cat has not taken well to the three cousins. She will locate them and if she can reach them, will pull them out and drag them to the center of the living room rug and leave them lay there for all to see. There has not been a day go by that one (or more!) of the elves is laying in the middle of the living room floor as though it were the next family meal. This can be quite distressing for the kids so we quickly pick up the elf and locate it to a safer place.

To be honest, the whole elf thing has become a little annoying this year. I know I could have done without the added aggravation for the holidays. It is enough to have to buy gifts, decorate the house, make it to Christmas parties and gatherings and fulfill my work responsibilities without having to keep an eye on a cat and three small elves! I am running out of new places to put them and find myself sticking them in the nearest logical place for the day.

At the same time, I must admit the joy this tradition brings to the kids and our family as a whole. To see the joy and wonder in their faces when they realize the elves have moved and must now locate their new hiding place is fun to watch. We also have fun finding new and creative places to hide the elves, like the freezer, Pringle cans, inside the glass display cabinet and other places that make the kids ponder how this small being “could get in there”. In a world of doubt, disbelief and information overload, it is refreshing to see the excitement and anticipation of simple things that bring joy to the season!

I hope you also have those “silly” family traditions that keep the joy and wonder of the season in your family too. One of the great things about traditions is that they center us on what is important – family, friends and wonder of the coming of the Christ child. Just as God came to us in a very real and simple way in the babe born in Bethlehem, God continues to do so still today and our family traditions are one such avenue for God to work. As inconsequential as they may seem, our little family traditions are ways in which we still experience the wonder of the Christ child and God’s amazing love for us.

So, make sure to enjoy those family traditions. Who knows, maybe God will use them to reach out to you in new ways this holiday season! God’s blessings to all of you on a wonder-filled Christmas!
Pastor Scott Sessler
Emmanuel Lutheran Church


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