Last year I wrote about my visit with my Amish friend, Lydia, asking her about Christmas traditions. She just kept saying, “We just enjoy spending time together,” and I wondered if she was too busy to talk, giving me details. But, no, that is the focus of an Amish Christmas, beside deep devotion to the real meaning of Christmas, Emmanuel, Christ with us.
I’ve reflected about this focus on holidays for a year now, and this year I’ve decided to do a few simple things. First of all, if the season is about Christ coming to earth, and since I love to read, I picked John Piper’s Desiring God as my treat to myself for Christmas. Yes, I bought a Christmas present for myself, for spiritual growth. This is going to be something I do every year.
Secondly, going to the Nutcracker with my husband is more of a deal than I thought. Last year we couldn’t go because I was sick. Well, I have bronchitis again this year, (yes I got burnt out, writing four books this past year) but I’m taking care of myself so we can go tomorrow. By that I mean I didn’t run myself into the ground and not go to the doctors. I saw the doc a few days ago and will be good to go tomorrow. So I planned ahead, making this event a priority. This very romantic tradition is important. Tim and I go out to eat, buy a nutcracker ornament for our tree, then enjoy the show. If Christmas is about relationships, my husband is my first priority.
The Amish tradition of First and Second Christmas has really taken root in my family and our extended family. First Christmas is on December 25th and Second Christmas is the day after. In other words, we don’t have to kill ourselves, taking in all the food and fellowship on one day; we have the next day, too. I can’t tell you how helpful this is. No one feels guilty for not being somewhere on Christmas Day, as if love was measured by who spends that one day with whom.
And then we have twelve days of Christmas to celebrate with family and friends. December 25th through January 6th, Old Christmas, is observed by the Amish, as well as many countries around the world. The American culture is rush, rush, rush. When Tim and I went to Dominican Republic on a mission’s trip, the locals say, “Americans. They neurotic!” I looked up some synonyms for neurotic and they are anxious, fearful, disturbed. Look around you and see if this doesn’t describe many Americas, and for what? The birth of Christ is something to be celebrated.
I’ll be blogging on more this month…time to take my medicine and cozy up to my John Piper book. ;)