Monday, December 3, 2018

Christmas Traditions by Victoria Chatham

I'm late, I'm late, I'm very, very late! That's what comes of looking at the wrong calendar but I have finally caught up with myself!

Our post for December is about traditions, holiday or otherwise. I can’t say my family ever had ongoing traditions because we all moved about – a lot. It came with the territory of service families and I think because of that we just got to enjoy Christmas as it came, regardless of where we were or who we were with.

Once I had my own home and family, things changed a little. For a family vacation one summer, we took a holiday cottage for two weeks in Robin Hood’s Bay, Yorkshire. The last thing I expected to find in a local pottery were unpainted porcelain nativity figures. They were discounted so I bought the full set of Mary and Joseph, baby Jesus in his manger, the three kings, two shepherds, a camel, a donkey, a selection of sheep and finally the angel. I don’t remember the cost, but after we got home, I spent weeks hand-painting them. I worked with several brushes, even one that I shaved down until there was only one hair so I could complete the facial details. That one badger’s hair did sterling service, but I needed a magnifying glass to see what I was doing. Once the figures were painted, then we built the stable and my children did a wonderful job of constructing it from popsicle sticks, cardboard, and real straw to thatch it with. It also had battery operated flashlight bulbs set in the interior corners of the roof, so everyone could clearly see it. It was the first decoration we set up and the last one we put away.

Our Nativity set reminded us that Christmas wasn’t about the gifts we gave or received, but about compassion, peace, and hope for a better future. I have no photographs of it as, at that time, no one in the family had or cared to have a camera. It’s in my memory, and maybe my children’s too. I hope it is.

So, to all of you, have a very happy Christmas, celebrate the season with your own traditions, and I wish you all a wonderful New Year.

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