Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
Walter Albritton
December 16, 2001

Traditions give added meaning to Christmas

Traditions are important. They add significance to life. This is especially true for the Christmas season. So if you have valuable traditions, keep them. If you do not have some, then make some this Christmas.

In our free society we can pick and choose the things we enjoy doing as individuals and as families. When we begin doing the same things year after year, they become family traditions. My parents put up a Christmas tree in the living room of our home as far back as I can remember.

My mom also had a small "gum ball" tree which she placed on a small table every Christmas. It was plastic with lots of thorny limbs on it; on each thorn she stuck a little candy gum ball. By Christmas day it was often bare. We all helped ourselves as we walked by the little tree during the Christmas season. That tradition died with the passing of my parents. But all her life that gum ball tree was an important tradition for my mom.

Some traditions begin as memorials to loved ones. Before she died, my wife’s sister gave us a set of small town figurines to sit on the mantle over the fireplace. There is a little church, a school house, a fire station, and other scenes. It includes a string of lights which makes it a beautiful winter scene which all can enjoy when the overhead lights are lowered. My wife could not imagine Christmas without placing this scene on the mantle.

Our sons have a few traditions which they keep alive with no help from anyone. I should say three of our four sons really. Three of the boys always go hunting at Christmas. They enjoy deer hunting. They are good at it too. They kill several deer every season and do so for the meat as well as the thrill of "bagging a big one." Always there was a ten-point buck that got away, but they are glad to bring home an eight-point or a nine-point. The oldest son, like me, has not been smitten with an enormous drive to brave the elements in search of those elusive big bucks.

A few years ago one of our sons proposed a necktie party for the men at Christmastime. So that has become a tradition. The first two years we each brought ties that we would not wear to a dog fight. But we quickly tired of taking home two ugly ties to replace the ugly ties we had given away.

So this year we will each bring two ties that we would be willing to wear in public. When the five of us get together, we draw straws to see which one of us gets to pick a tie first. There is also a prize, a tie pin, for the one who brings the ugliest tie. The winner must provide the tie pin at next year’s tie party.

What began as a whimsical thing for the guys has become a tradition which we enjoy. The women are not allowed to attend our necktie gathering. We serve coffee, cookies, and cokes, and enjoy a few laughs with our "guy thing." To our surprise it has become an important tradition in our family.

As you prepare for the celebration of Christmas, take time to enjoy the traditions that are important to your family. And imagine that the big angel is saying to you, "Fear not beginning a few new traditions which you and your loved ones can enjoy for years to come!"