I’ve been thinking how Christmas traditions vary not only from country to country, but from family to family.
In some countries, the classic main dish is a ham or roast pork; in others, a turkey, goose, duck, chicken, codfish, tamales, pierogis, or an assortment of cheeses. An asado (barbecue) of a whole lamb, calf, or pig is common in countries in the southern hemisphere where Christmas falls during the warm months of the year.
The side dishes, desserts, and beverages are even more varied, and within each family, specific and multi-layered. Many families combine several traditions.
Some children get their presents on December 24th, others on the 25th, still others on January 6th. Some families spread them out across a couple of days, or even twelve days. When I visited my mother’s very large extended Polish family for the first time, I learned about their particular Christmas tradition of having one of the uncles dress up as Santa and give presents to all the children after dinner on Christmas Eve.
Almost everyone loves Christmas, but how exactly they love it, what it means to them, and how they interact with the holiday and with one another during the season, varies from person to person. I think that’s a bit like Jesus Himself and what He means to each of us. He makes Himself known to us, speaks to us, and works in our lives according to who we are and what we need. And yet, the core of who He is always remains—God’s Son, our Savior.
In the Bible, Jesus is referred to as many things—“the Good Shepherd,” 1 “the bread of life,” 2 “the light of the world,” 3 “the way, the truth, and the life,” 4 and “the resurrection and the life,” 5 among others.
He is also a healer, 6 a defender of the vulnerable, 7 and my favorite—a friend. 8 One can imagine Jesus saying today “I am your confidant,” “I am your therapist,” or even “I am your BFF.” God’s original introduction to Moses was simply “I Am who I Am.” 9 He is, and He is in each of our lives, and He comes to us in the way that we need Him—at Christmastime, and all year long.
- John 10:11,14
- John 6:35
- John 8:12
- John 14:6
- John 11:25
- E.g., John 9
- See John 8:1–11.
- See John 15:13–15.
- Exodus 3:14