Three East Hills Alliance families were asked to share their thoughts on how they chose to make Christmas meaningful to them. Thanks to Jim and Sharon Fishel, Jean and Rick Imholte and Pat Enbody for letting us peek into their holiday traditions!
We began early in our marriage, even before children arrived, to try and make Christmas as Christ centered as possible. Several young married couples got together for a party at our house one year just after Thanksgiving to build their own advent wreaths. We would light a candle and read scripture each Sunday that related to the events surrounding Christ’s birth. On Christmas morning the center candle representing Christ would be lit. This became a tradition that our daughters looked forward to taking part in every Christmas.
Another very special tradition is the reading of a six-page short story “The Other Wise Man” which began a little later when our daughters were in grade school and has now become a part of their own family Christmas activities. This condensed version of a story by Henry van Dyke was introduced to us through the December ’83 issue of Moody Monthly magazine. This story follows the events of a fourth magi that sold everything he owned to buy three jewels to give to the king foretold by a new star. He missed the journey with his three friends because he stopped to aid an injured traveler. The rest of the story tells how he used his jewels to help others while searching all his life for the King. At the end of the story the Lord accepts his gift of the jewels as if he had given them to Him. Even though we have read this story many times it is still so moving that the chosen reader has to pass it on to another reader near the end because of being overcome with emotion.
One year as we hung our stocking on the mantel we decided to put one up for Jesus in the middle. We then wrote letters telling Jesus what we wanted to give Him for His birthday. Baking together everyone’s favorite cookies, that were usually only eaten and shared at Christmas time, was one of the things our daughters loved to do. Caroling as a family quartet to our neighbors and sharing plates of those special cookies was always a memorable event. Making sugared walnuts has taken the cookies place now that we are empty nesters. Sharing them with our neighbors is a very joyfully received gift. Last year we got our houses mixed up and delivered them to a family we hadn’t met and made a new friend.
For the last twenty years we’ve faithfully put out a lighted nativity scene under the tree in our front yard with the star hanging in the tree above as a light to others.
Jim & Sharon Fishel