12.25.18 … “What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” This

Christmas Tradition #17: The Gatherings (Pre Christmas Gatherings, Christmas Eve Dinner, Christmas Morning Breakfast, Christmas Dinner and Gift Exchange in Atlanta, Festival of Greed Gift Exchange):

“It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

Christmas is a little bit more …

On a cultural level, it’s about celebrating family and friends … gathering.

I have several traditional gatherings.

The pre-Christmas events include the office parties and coffees and open houses and kith friend dinners and the intimate meals with the inner circle. We are blessed to have several groups that get together every year. For many years I hosted my Charlotte kith family, and someday I will do it again. It was my favorite party, but with the immediate and extended kith/kin family far and wide, it just doesn’t work. But this year, we celebrated the gathering of all three of our children with a family favorite, shrimp and grits. I use a Paula Deen recipe that contains bacon, too.

Christmas Eve is the BIG meal at our home. There are years that it is just a small gathering. We usually do a variation on John’s mom’s Christmas Eve dinner: Roast beast (beef tenderloin or standing rib roast), salmon, corn pudding, green beans, mashed potatoes, and Waldorf salad with pears. This year we will share this meal with special family friends … on second thought, make that Chinese food on the way to church. We had to make a last minute change of plans. I’m amazed at how many people eat Chinese on Christmas Eve. I’ve always heard it was a Jewish thing on Christmas Day!

On the way to church, I shared a favorite picture from the Service’s closing many years’ ago with everyone holding a candle. It’s of one of my children, and I have only found this one picture:

Christmas Eve Worship with my family is my favorite family religious service of the year. But it’s my favorite cultural event to. It’s the melding of cultural and religious traditions. It is welcoming to all and always focuses on the universal hope of peace on earth. Who doesn’t want peace on earth, good will to all. The Service is always packed and the minister always welcomes all, while gently chiding us for being there just once or twice a year. But honestly if you are only going once a year or taking someone to introduce to your faith tradition, this is it.

In his Christmas Eve Sermon, Pen discussed fear and the angel’s calling us to, “Fear not!” As a humorous intro, Pen mentioned the fear that we sometimes cause in our children by introducing them too early to the scary cartoon characters. My mind immediately went to my oldest son’s obsessive fear of Mowgli in Jungle Book at age 2. So I heartily laughed when I saw this on social media. Check out “Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle” on Netflix


As always, the candlelit closing with “Silent Night” is my favorite. I love walking out, jovially saying,”Merry Christmas,” and sharing the beauty of that moment with everyone. And this year, I found myself laughing. I laughed because children now get battery operated candles. I’m not sure it would be the same! And I laughed when another friend, because I had mentioned this in an earlier post, shared with me a picture of her Coca-Cola Santa toy that she still gets out when she decorates. I love this tradition this silent night, candles, hugs, hope, peace on earth, good will to men tradition!

Christmas Breakfast is a favorite now that the family is without little ones. I’m trying a new recipe this year … baked eggs Benedict. We eat in the living room while we open presents.

And then we head to Atlanta where I turn it over to my extended Lindsey family. I do love seeing 4 generations of family in one place. It’s a real gathering. And Elizabeth and Edward can host the whole crew in their dining room. That’s a big table. But what matters is that all are welcome.

And on the 26th we gather again with extended Lindsey family and friends for what has been called The Festival of Greed. It’s our family’s variation of the White Elephant or Chinese Gift exchange and was begun in the early 70’s by my great aunt (Anne Scott Mauldin, Aunt T to me) and great uncle, Uncle Johnny. My sister took over the event at some point and I am so glad she did. So do you take something you want or a gag gift? I always take something I want. But the laughter and joy experienced when spending time with cousins, second cousins, cousins x removed, and their spouses, partners and children even briefly makes this tradition another favorite.

It’s not the gifts, but the gatherings.

“What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”


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December 2018

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