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Holidays and traditions seem to go hand-in-hand; can't have one without the other.

Currently, I’m in a tradition predicament.

You see, for generations, Southern-style cornbread dressing has been a family tradition for Christmas dinner. My grandmother painstakingly walked me through exactly how the dish is to be made and stressed the importance of the ingredients. She passed the baton to me to carry on this vital custom and expected that I would be worthy of the mission.

For years, I have succeeded until now; here is my problem-- the key ingredient (a very particular cornbread) is no longer manufactured! I’ve searched high and low for comparable substitutes and just can’t find the exact match.

That means Christmas dinner will never be quite the same.

Maybe we should start a new tradition? I did find a recipe for French-style dressing; however, I’m afraid there might be a mutiny at our family dinner if I surprise everyone with it!

Let’s face it… traditions are important as they are our way of passing down beliefs and customs from one generation to the next. Traditions create bonds, unity, memories and hopefully harmony within the family unit.

That’s why it is essential to carefully consider traditions before you put them into practice, (especially for new families just starting out) once you start a tradition it is almost impossible to stop.

Take Elf on the Shelf as a great example- a non-religious tradition that gets started to keep the children in-line for the holidays, but what happens when the parents get tired of creating mischievous things for the elf to do every single night? What then? Stage the elf’s death and hold a funeral?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, what happens when tradition overshadows the real meaning of Christmas?

When the gifts, the fun, the shopping, the Santa letters, the holiday parties, the decorating, the baking and the eating all take first place and Christmas becomes one big giant celebration instead of what it was truly intended to accomplish.

The result, Christ is slowly being removed from Christmas and we ultimately teach the next generation that Christmas is all about celebrating the “stuff” and not about worshipping Christ!

Consider the origin of the word Christmas-- Christ + Mass = Worship of Christ.

Somehow we have systematically removed “mass’” from Christmas. Worship has taken a back-seat during the holiday season and been replaced with secular activites. We spend our time watching holiday movie marathons, buying a mountain of gifts and gorging ourselves during holiday parties and dinners.

We get so entangled with creating hollow traditions that we have lost the real reason for the season. (I know I'm guility!)

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." ~ John 1:14

We may listen to holiday music, sing some carols, buy a gift for an underprivileged child and even attend church on Christmas Eve, but are we doing these things for the sake of tradition or in worship to Christ?

Is our top-priority focusing our efforts on recognizing the gift of Christ to the world?

Do we remember and give thanksgiving that God came in human flesh born into the world to ultimately save us?

Are deeds during this holiday season done as a reflection of our worship? Or is it all just in fun and for the sake of tradition?

There is no Christmas without worship.” ~Pastor Todd Marlin

What will you be doing this holiday season? Following hollow traditions or worshiping the one that gave you the gift of life?

I challenge you to worship this holiday season.

Bottom line- Christmas is about Christ.

Father, Thank you for the gift of Christ. As we approach the holiday season, help us to embrace the real meaning of Christmas and to focus all our efforts and energies on worshiping you. Lord, give us wisdom and insight into how we spend our time, money and endeavors and guide us in developing God-honoring traditions that we can pass to the next generation.

“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” ~ 1 Timothy 1:15-17

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