We spent this past Christmas with my in-laws in Indiana. It was such a relaxing time–we temporarily got to push the pause button on this whole ‘being adults’ thing and simply chill out. Be fed. Be taken care of. I love passing the adult baton when staying with parents. It’s so nice.
The manger scene had, as usual, been invaded.
If there weren’t little plastic army guys around, it just wouldn’t feel right. It’s tradition!
At least the Hulk didn’t make the cut this year. He was a little . . . distracting.
The other staple in my in-laws’ household is this Christmas tree. They swear it’s the last year for it–the tree is at least half a century old, and is held upright by a string attached to the corner cabinet.
And every year, it’s covered in ornaments. Plastered. Coated. This is necessary in order to cover the old and bare branches.
Another holiday tradition is this fruit salad.
It’s been in the family for years, and it’s always the guys’ responsibility to make it. Or so I gather. Or choose to gather.
A potential Christmas tradition in the making–playing games. My parents gave me both Dominion and Blokus for Christmas, and the fun-loving violence they generate is a holiday must. Have I mentioned that I’m competitive?
Oh, there’s my stick of Burt’s Bees! If you see some Burt’s hanging around, you can bet your bonnet I’m somewhere closeby.
However, my absolute favorite Christmas tradition is eating angel food cake for breakfast on Christmas morning. I make it Christmas Eve, and leave it to cool overnight, hanging upside down over a beer bottle.
It all started when we were young things. To get us little tykes to focus on Jesus’s birth instead of just the enticing pile of presents, my parents would make a birthday cake for Jesus, and we would sing him “happy birthday.”
In the words of my Mom, “Having a candle and singing Happy Birthday is something young children can relate to, and helps keep the ‘real meaning of Christmas’–Jesus’ birthday–in the picture for them even if they don’t get all the theology.”
The angel food cake is white to represent how God created us in his image, perfect beings in a beautiful garden.
Dad would read from Genesis:
God saw all that he had made and it was very good. (Gen 1:31)
Then we smeared the cake with raspberry jam.
This represents sin entering the world and tarring humanity, so we would read about Adam and Eve’s disobedience in Genesis chapter 3. There’s probably a deep metaphor underlying it all about sin tasting delicious, but let’s leave that for future ponderings.
Finally, we top the whole thing off with generous poofs of freshly whipped cream. We put the metal bowl and mixer attachments in the freezer for maybe 20 minutes prior to the whipping process–I’m told it helps the cream poof better.
Slather on that cream! We have to cover every bit of that raspberry jam! This repesents Jesus coming to earth and making us righteous and pure through his perfect life and death.
We read from Isaiah:
“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” (Is 1:18)
And then we serve it up!
Over the years we have stopped singing happy birthday, but we continue to make the cake and read the Scriptures. If you’re interested, my diligent mother typed up a Word document with the complete passages we’ve read throughout the years. Thanks Mom! Now I don’t have to scratch my head every year and ask myself “Now what is it exactly we read?”
I leave you with a picture of my husband with his brother and dad. I just love Christmas, and I just love these guys!