We hope you'll enjoy them ~ and look forward to seeing your stories and photos in the coming year. Merry Christmas!
For the Love of (Christ)mas
By Amanda J. Vicars
Christmas is synonymous with love in my book. The love of Jesus Christ, my Savior and Lord -without whom there would be no Christmas - and the love of my family. My favorite Christmas customs are inextricably tied to both. Over the years, I’ve cherished attending many candlelight Christmas Eve services with my parents at my church home since birth, Sullivan Baptist Church in Kingsport.
The candlelit Lord’s Supper, observed in remembrance of the birth and ultimate sacrifice Christ made for us later in His life, brings the true meaning of Christmas into perspective. Amid the chaotic shuffle of the holiday season, it is so humbling and awe-inspiring to sit in quiet veneration of the baby whose birth forever changed the world. The evening service acts as prelude to the celebration of Christ’s birthday the following day.
Every Christmas day of my life - this year will mark 30 Christmases - has been spent with my parents and sister in the same house (and the only home I’ve ever known). We share a meal at the table, open our presents by the tree, and then open our stockings by the fireplace while listening to classic Christmas songs sung by old and new musical legends like Bing Crosby and Michael Buble, respectively. With time, the tradition has expanded to include my sister’s own family and my boyfriend. Each year, I grow increasingly grateful for my family as I recognize they are the greatest gifts from above that I will ever receive.
Pictured (from left) are my brother-in-law Jason Wilburn; my sister, Jennifer Wilburn; my mother, Sarah Vicars; my father, Jerry Vicars, holding my nephew, Brooks Wilburn; and me with my boyfriend, Ryan Moor.
Christmas is More than a Date
By Debra McCown
At first, the holidays seemed like a really big deal: Every other Christmas, I have to send my daughter off to spend the holiday with her dad.
But what I’ve come to learn over the years is that Dec. 25 is just a date on the calendar. Sure there are things she’s missed, but really we celebrate Christmas together every year.
When we’re lucky, schedules align and key relatives can wait a few days; Santa is known to be tardy at our house, sometimes arriving as late as Dec. 29. Some years, it simply means a conscious effort to soak up the season on the approach, reveling in mid-December’s opportunities to immerse ourselves in the holiday spirit, making meaningful memories in the run-up to the day itself.
If you find yourself fretting over the calendar this year, I invite you to shift your focus away from what is lost to what is gained: There are plenty of ways that you can make Christmas special for your kids, regardless of whether you’ll be together on the 25th.
By Katina Rose
It’s Christmas time! Regardless of the holiday frenzy that seems to take over the month of December, no matter how hard I try to avoid it, the bright moments that make it all worthwhile are the traditions. While I believe the Christmas spirit should be in our hearts all throughout the year, it’s good for the soul to hold and keep a familiar activity that binds family together.
Two of my favorite Christmas traditions are relatively new traditions within my family. The first one my husband and I started nine years ago when my daughters were 6 and 2. We were living in a new state with a long distance between us and our extended family. We’ve always made it a point to wake up Christmas morning in our own home, so any travel plans have always happened after Christmas. The church we were attending held a late night Christmas Eve service. It was our first Christmas Eve service but, ever since, it has been a priority to attend Christmas Eve service at our current church or another church in the community. Our daughters expect and look forward to it now. It’s become a part of our plans every Christmas Eve night regardless of other get-togethers or events that may arise. After the service, we reflect and remember why Christmas should not be a race to the finish, but a destination for worship and thankfulness of the ultimate gift.
The other tradition was started a few years ago and includes messy fingers, sweet treats and time with family. My great aunt and great uncle graciously host a cookie-decorating party and cookie swap at their house. Everyone brings a container of cookies and we spend the evening decorating with a variety of icing, sprinkles and candy. We always end up with a collection of flavors and designs. The younger kids (and adults) eat as much as they decorate and end up with a full stomach of sweet treats before it’s over. We enjoy sitting around the table, preparing for the holidays and catching up with each other over icing and cookies. Food brings people together and that’s exemplified when cookies and family join together around the kitchen table. Merry Christmas!