December 21, 2011

Traditions of Celebration

I stood on the cobalt rug leading into the kitchen and moved my toes across the fibers. The kitchen was warm. I could smell the premeasured ingredients my grandma Lacey had left on the counter. Today was the day we would make Christmas cookies. She stood on her tiptoes, with perfect balance, as she brought down the festively decorated tins from the top of the refrigerator. She then turned to me and said, “Desiree, you can start to make the oatmeal cookies.”
I smiled at her and moved over to the counter. Raisins, oats, flour, and sugar were all separated into tiny cups. The cinnamon was in a conical-shaped scooper, and I wondered if myrrh is the same yellowish-brown color. I scooped a small amount of baking soda into the mix and finished with a stick of margarine.
I turned to look at Grandma Lacey as she moved deftly about the room. Her talc-white hair curled and puffed like a cotton ball, and her large square-framed glasses were gleaming in the fluorescent glow of the kitchen light. It felt good to be here with her, making cookies.
2011 1536 page31My family always celebrates Christmas in a big way. Making cookies is part of that celebration and is engrained in our tradition. We bake dozens of cookies, wrap them up, and mail them to relatives in Oregon and Washington. The tree is always adorned in the same tinsel that had been carefully picked off the tree the year before. We watch our favorite Christmas movies together. An heirloom Nativity set stands proud while Baby Jesus reaches His hand out of a tiny makeshift crib. And a special prayer is said before dinner on Christmas Day, giving thanks to the Lord for our many blessings.
“Desiree, you need to get the baking sheet and start scooping tiny balls of the dough onto it,” Grandma Lacey said, breaking into my reflections. “We need to get a move on.”
Grandma showed me how to scoop the dough into semispherical balls by using two spoons. I filled the tray, and it was ready to go into the oven. Grandma wiped her hands on the candy-cane-printed hand towel before picking up the cookie sheet and putting it into the oven. She set the timer, and we waited.
God is like this. He shows us the way, and He has provided us time to mature. As the Bible verse says, “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). God blessed Mary with a miracle child, Jesus, so that this Son would be able to save His creation of humanity and help us know a better way to live. We should remind ourselves every day that each of us is here on this earth for a greater purpose. We are here to serve God in the best way possible.
What I’ve learned from the years I’ve spent baking with my grandma is that Christmas is not about making cookies. It is, however, a tradition that has meaning to my family during the season in which we as Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus.
Some believe that the aesthetic decorations and other traditions of the holiday blind us to the true meaning behind the day. What I have discovered, though, is that we can enjoy simple family traditions while not losing sight of what Christmas is truly about. We can create precious memories during the time spent with family and friends that will enhance and help to spread the joy of Christmas.
During this holiday season let’s not forget the true meaning of Christmas—the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ—but let’s also enjoy those special family traditions that draw us closer to one another and to God.
Desiree Misae Lacey is a student at La Sierra University majoring in liberal studies. This article was published December 22, 2011.