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A Hope for Christmas

A Merry Christmas means a Family Christmas.
by Brother Michael Mitchell, LC | Source:
A news report in Italy said that over 12 million Christmas trees have already been sold. For a nation of 60 million, this was a big upsurge compared to previous years. More Christmas trees mean more family traditions. This is Good News.

All of us treasure a few Christmas memories. Even Ebenezer Scrooge had his share of them. Hopefully your past holiday memories are brighter than his were. Mine certainly are. Scrooge had no happy Christmas memory until he finally opened himself up to the people around him. Once he did, Christmas, family and friends took on a whole new meaning.

These memories remind us of the joy of celebrating the coming of the Christ Child with family and friends. Celebrating with family is a very important part of Christmas. Thinking about Christmas and family, I was pleased to read in Pope Benedict’s brand new encyclical the following:

"Life in its true sense is not something we have exclusively in or from ourselves: it is a relationship. And life in its totality is a relationship with him who is the source of life.”

True Life is found in our relationship with Christ and our Christian family. As we all go about making our final preparations for Christmas, we are filling our lives with meaning and living out our faith. These family traditions give us a sense of security and meaning. They tell us where we come from and where we are going. In short, they lead us to God.

One family tradition that I always loved was decorating our Christmas tree. Dad always had to cut down the biggest tree he could find, regardless of the size of the living room. I remember that one year the tree was so large that in order to move from one side of the living room to the other we had to hug the walls or crawl underneath the tree. But this was part of family tradition and no one would have it any other way.

The ornaments for the tree have been passed down from generation to generation. Each of the kids has his own collection stored away in an ornament box handmaid out of wood. Grandpa makes one for each new grandkid. And of course, placing the angel on top is the privilege of the youngest member of the family.

The boys spend hours under the tree with the Lionel trains. It makes countless circles under the tree during the holidays although it is frequently derailed by tiny hands trying to put a toy in one of the cars.

Mom loves tinsel on the tree. Dad hates it. On Christmas Eve mom waits until dad is not looking to cover the tree in shiny tinsel. Dad traditionally comes in later and pretends to be upset about it. It is just a tradition; we all look forward to it.

Christmas trees have many symbolic meanings. They became associated with Christmas in the 7th century when German monks compared the triangle shape of the evergreen to the Holy Trinity. The converted people began to consider the evergreen as God’s tree. In the 16th century people began to decorate the trees with candles and pastries.

In 1851, a farmer named Mark Carr hauled two ox sleds of evergreens into New York City and sold them all. By 1900, one in five American families decorated a Christmas tree, and 20 years later, the custom was nearly universal.

Christmas trees are only one example. We have Christmas cookies, candy canes, carols and cribs: all of which have symbolic meanings that remind us of the Christ Child.

May all of us this year have a blessed Christmas that strengthens our relationship with “him who is the source of life.” Christmas and family go hand in hand. I think the Christ Child would agree, don’t you?

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