As far back as I can remember,the best part of Christmas and New Year has been parties. So much is anticipated before them, once we receive an invitation either by phone, by email or even in the ordinary posted letter. We feel excited and warmed inside. There is much joy in just being invited and knowing that the day will arrive soon.
As children I knew we’d see our cousins, share games on Boxing day and entertain the adults with singing or small plays. As I look back, it was just great to be totally involved. We played charades, hide and seek, Blind man’s buff and sometimes “Sardines”where we all squashed into a cupboard. There was always a lot of laughter . We challenged each other with guessing games, and generally ran around our grandmother’s old house. When things quieted down, we were asked to sing carols. My aunt played and we had a way of sharing. The rule was, ‘chose a favourite carol and you sing the first verse.’ My brother had a lovely high voice as a boy and was usually asked to sing Silent Night. We all enjoyed singing Deck the halls with boughs of holly and at least four or five more.
Our four unmarried uncles enjoyed singing before quietly dropping off to sleep. We were put round the table to get extra trifle and Christmas cake. Later, we’d listen to the adults talking about the days when they were young. It was all special.
I missed these times so much that ,when we were first married, we decided to give a party at Christmas and we continued doing this for 4 years in Malaya and, when we came to Canada, we kept it up for 40 more years till our children were grown up and other commitments got in the way of having the same day- about 5 days before Christmas. We had a wonderful time playing the drawing game with four teams trying to guess the words as someone in each team drew a picture. We enjoyed games adults and children played together such as musical chairs and we always sang carols for our supper!
I miss entertaining in a room where the log fire burned and thirty or more people of all ages crowded in so it was lovely to go to our old friends for a long Christmas lunch this year. We ate, drank and were merry, reminiscing over times gone past. My friend still had his piano and later in the afternoon sat down and played the beloved carols we remembered. The warm hospitality of old friends, the joyous singing and lovely sharing helped to make our Christmas special this year.But, when we sang Once in Royal David’s City, I thought of the child born in a rough cave with a manger for a bed.
That night angels invited the poorest men, the shepherds, to visit this special baby and they, in turn, “spread the word about what they were told about this child and all who heard were amazed at what the shepherds told them.” ( Luke 2:17-18) I am sure this brought others in to see Jesus. That night, out of sheer love for all of us, God let His Son come to earth to bring us joy, peace and love as well as giving an invitation to any who listened. Each year we are invited to celebrate that unique birth. Now, 2,000 years later, the spirit of love still warms our hearts so we want to spread it around, share it with family and friends and hold the joy in our hearts for years to come.
I’d love to know if you have some family traditions you share each year. They enrich our lives and stay in our memories.