Baby Jesus in July

Cool Mint waterHot, hot HOT!

It’s hot. And muggy. And it’s Georgia in July so DUH, it’s supposed to be hot. And muggy.

I live in a farming community about 2 hours from the coast. It’s hot but it’s been worse. Truth is, despite today’s heat index of 99, so far this has been a mild summer.

Truly, we don’t have it nearly as bad as the folks out West. Pray for them…it’s bad.

Here, after several years of drought and scorching heat, we’ve had nearly a month of daily rain with more on the way. A hurricane maybe. So far, I’ve heard very little complaining. The farmers are thankful and I am too.

I also live in a 1920-era, solid frame house with hardwood floors and 11-foot ceilings. #BLESSED.  It’s not fully updated but we do have indoor plumbing and central AC! Praise Him!

However, we’re careful to keep the thermostat on 80 for fear of causing a shift in weather patterns from all that cooled air escaping through our poorly fitting doors, ridiculously thin windows and meager insulation. We’ll fix that. Someday. Maybe.

Ah the life of the “self-unemployed” artist! But I digress….must be the heat because because today I’m supposed to be sharing one of my family’s Christmas traditions! Say what?!?

Yup, it’s Christmas in July!

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My sweet friend, Katharine Barrett, has invited me to join in a month-long look at some Christmas traditions and ideas she’s sharing on her darling site, Just A Thought.

I first introduced Katharine last November (when we were actually preparing for Christmas) as she released her marvelous Advent devotional guide, Walking to Bethlehem.

walking book cover 3If you don’t know about Advent, this is something to consider. It’s such a historically holy and sprit-centering way to focus heart and mind in the days leading up to Christmas. It’s a journey…to Bethlehem.

Advent became part of our family’s celebration when our children were young and we’d been attending a church which taught and celebrated the tradition.

Neither of us came from a very strong Christian background. and as children, Christmas had been for us what it tends to be for most of the world still today: a Santa-spiked gorge-fest of materialism and mayhem.

We were trying to establish a Christian home so we invited this tradition into our celebration along with a few others over the years. The Advent book we used with our children then, is a wonderful story called Jotham’s Journey..so much thrill and adventure leading up to the birth of our savior,  Jesus Christ! I wholly recommend this book!

I confess, we didn’t do ANYTHING flawlessly but we did strive to be intentional. And as Advent helped us make the journey to Christmas Day, Christmas morning brought another little memory-maker we’ve enjoyed through the years.

Like many families, we read aloud account of Jesus’ birth and pray before diving into the presents however, somewhere along the way, we added a little “twist” to the practice which has become one of my favorite Christmas traditions.

advent-wreath-2012Early in the season, one of the first things we do is assemble the advent wreath and arrange our crèche (manger scene).  This is done at least a week BEFORE the tree and any other decorations so we have time to fix our focus (as much as possible) on WHY we are celebrating.

As the pieces are arranged, we intentionally do not put the baby Jesus in there with the others. He is held in a secret location…. until Christmas morning.

NOT because we believe or teach Jesus has not come until then…no, but because on that morning, after we pray, we open our stockings and there…in one of them is the “baby Jesus” figure. The person who received the figure places  it with the others in the crèche and also reads aloud the account of His birth. Yes, it’s precious.

rliegOver the years, each of  our children has had their moment (not always with great joy but always with great reverence and responsibility) to receive“baby Jesus” in their stocking. The best days were when they were young enough to REALLY want that privilege –especially as they first learned to read and could hold a bible of their very own.

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I know each of them did this but I could only find one “Christmas wish list”where my youngest wrote out his wishes. There, you see it, last but not least (maybe?) he prints. “babbe Jesus in my stocking”.  My heart still flutters reading this today!

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Our children are nearly grown and I have no idea what they’ll hold onto as they begin families of their own but I’m hopeful we’ve given them some solid ground to build upon.

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We’re not there yet, but the grandbabies I trust, will eventually come. I hope these are some of the traditions they’ll grow up with too — somehow I think they will.

And when they get to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, I like to think there will be hugs and kisses, plates of cookies and laughter and little presents waiting for them.

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Most of all, I look forward to the shared joy of listening to one of them read aloud the account of their Saviors birth because that year, it was their turn to “get baby Jesus in their stocking”.

After all,  it’s a family tradition. That’s the beautiful thing– it’s never to late to start.

 

 

 

 

15 thoughts on “Baby Jesus in July

  1. We’ve had continuous rain here in Virginia too and it has been severely damaging to our attempts to grow vegetables. Even after last year’s drought if you lived here you’d definitely hear at least one farmer complaining (me!)

    You are so right about how our culture treats Christmas (“a Santa-spiked gorge-fest of materialism and mayhem”). It bothers me more every year. I enjoyed reading how your family has kept the focus where it belongs.

    1. Thanks Bill! I tell you what, at that writing I hadn’t heard much complaining but SINCE then, several big farmers I know have had to declare “crop failure” due to TOO MUCH rain because their produce was bloated and splitting. Guess you can indeed have too much of a good thing! Bless you brother, thanks for stopping by!

  2. Christmas in July: what an awesome idea! Love your shared traditions here, Lorretta.

    And also? I love that you live in a 1920’s home. While I know older homes come with their share of challenges, I love the idea of being in a home that’s been a part of such history.

    Lovely place you have, Lorretta! Have a blessed week.

  3. what an absolutely wonderful tradition! I love it. Baby Jesus appears on Christmas morning in our house too, but not in a stocking. But we always start out with Christmas breakfast and singing happy birthday to Jesus. After breakfast we read the Christmas story and thank God for the gift of His son. And THEN we begin to open presents. We have always had a very laid back approach to opening presents. Sometimes it takes us several days as we just revel and enjoy what we have received or given to others. I participated for the first time in a Lenten practice this year and I think that it totally gave me a new perspective on some aspects of that journey to the cross that I hadn’t seen before. Perhaps I should also do some advent following and reading, i think that would definately give me a different perspective. we don’t attend a mainline church so some of those traditions are not followed in our church, but i love learning about them and seeing How God can use them in our lives. I pray that your grand kids (when they come) will find not only love as you mentioned but also the gift of Christ in your home! love this idea.

    1. Thanks Friend! One of the most precious parts of participating in this little series is learning what others do and treasure during the Christmas season. It’s actually easier to discover these things in JULY when we aren’t all “covered up” by the crazy chaos that tends to swirl in uninvited. Love your “laid back” approach… that’s what’s valuable and it’s up to us to dig our heels in and refuse to be dragged off with the masses! Advent has it’s same roots as Lent in that it’s intended to center and focus our hearts during these seasons and celebrations. I know of those who do many things for many reasons but this is what I have learned is best for us. And bless your ever-lovin’ heart for stopping by and encouraging me so.

    1. I don’t save EVERYTHING but I have saved these sorts of things because they mark a “new” path and history for my family. Partially, I suppose because I have very,very little from my childhood (no baby book, very few pictures thanks to a divorce and stepmother who burned it all) and I am thankful to have certain meaningful things to pass along. 🙂

Welcome to the discussion!