The holidays were difficult for me for many years
Dark holiday memories from my childhood robed my joy. Even once I had little ones filled with awe and wonder, it was sometimes difficult for me to maintain JOY in the season. I married into a large family steeped in family traditions that bonded their relationships and created memories that bring joy for a lifetime. Being a part of their traditions and seeking the Lord in His Word for healing in my own life brought a fresh “new perspective” to me.
In Nehemiah God’s people were so distraught by their own sin and the sins of their fathers that they were grieved after hearing God’s Word and laws : “They all wept”. But God still wanted them to celebrate and rejoice in Him and in so doing they would move forward beyond grief…
Nehemiah 8:11-12 “The Levites calmed all the people saying, “Be still, for this is a holy day. Do not grieve.” Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.”
Through God’s revelations in my life He has shown me an attitude of gratitude in all circumstances, with worship as a daily mindset brings Joy and Peace no matter what. Celebrations and traditions rooted in Him create beautiful memories that can lift us up when life tries to strike us down. I made a conscious effort to create new traditions for our family that would impact our children’s lives and make beautiful memories for a lifetime.
One of those is the Living Tree. The idea came from a Christmas book called “The Night Tree”, by Eve Bunting. The story is of a young family that wants to do something special for Christmas for the animals that struggle to survive in the cold winter. They create all kinds of edible ornaments to hang on a tree in the forest, a little something for the fury four legged and the birds of the air. They make a tradition of doing this on Christmas Eve and on Christmas morning the animals are filling up on all the goodies. Our kids loved this story and I decided that we should make it a part of our yearly tradition. So I researched what is healthy for wild critters, cause I am one of those types…. that has to investigate everything.
Our usual ornaments:
- pine cones smothered in natural peanut butter
- suet cupcakes with birdseed and sunflower seeds
- garland strings of popcorn,fresh cranberries and unsalted peanuts in the shell
- day old bagels and bread
- orange and apple halves
- all string with twine made into loops so all could be hung on the tree.
Peanut butter and suet are high in fat which really helps the birds survive in the bitter cold. Sunflower seeds attract the largest number of birds: chickadees; cardinals; nuthatches; pine siskin; red polls; titmice; finches; crossbills & grosbeaks. Seeds put around the base of the tree welcome ground feeders like morning doves; juncos; sparrows; crows; grackles and also squirrels. The Garland of popcorn, cranberries and nuts provide fat, protein, fiber and a treat for feathered friends. Oranges and apples provide fiber, minerals, vitamins and a sweet treat.
“You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas” Psalm 8:6-8. - God created us to be good stewards of HIS creation.
This was such a fun family project that it became part of the whole extended families and we spent time; parents and kids together, creating all the ornaments then bundling up to decorate trees in the woods. The memories from this tradition live in our hearts, bring smiles and laughter and hopefully will continue with our children’s children.
No matter where you are this Christmas, whether it is a wonderful season for you or one that fills you with grief, God desires for you to celebrate!
He alone can meet your needs and heal your heart.
He came as a poor baby, born in difficult circumstances, He knows what it is to suffer, He died for you and me, so that we could be forgiven of our sins.
He offers us the greatest gift…. Salvation!
The best part, it’s FREE, as long as we believe in and accept Him as Lord and Savior of our life. So, look up, choose to celebrate Him this holiday. Decide to create a tradition this year that will bring joy for years to come!