By Deanna Outsen, Council President
Christmas has always been a very special and magical time for me and my family. As a child, we prepared our hearts and home through Advent with faith, hope and love and the encouragement of my mom, Dorothy (Dort) Sigvardt, through her love and actions. As part of our Advent preparations we decorated our Christmas tree, made Scandinavian cookies and treats, dipped chocolates and candies to share with friends and neighbors, and as we looked for the perfect gift for each family member and friend. My mom was always quick to remind us of her favorite quote from Dr. Seuss …“He puzzled and puzzled till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. Maybe Christmas, he thought… doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps… means a little bit more!” We would continue to prepare our hearts and home by attending church and making Lefse, sending and receiving Christmas cards and letters, and being a little bit more kind to one another, and as Christmas Eve approached you could hear my mom sharing that Christ was born in the manger and that was the true “reason for the season”.
Christmas Eve has always been a time of tradition; one you don’t mess with. My mom is Norwegian and my dad is a Navy man, so running a tight (taut) ship has always been important. As we all gather on Christmas Eve we all helped prepare our special and delicious Scandinavian meal. The table is decorated and name tags are placed to mark the special spot that is yours for the meal. Our meal time is not rushed; time is taken to laugh and talk. Following the cleaning of the table, we move out to the living room for our family Christmas program, which has ranged from dances, the playing of musical instruments, poems shifting from serious to funny and the singing of Christmas songs as a family. The program always ended with the Christmas story from the book of Luke 2:1-20. This has been an incredibly important part of our night. We all settle in and sit in the glow of candlelight and listen to the story. Traditionally read by a different family member each year. Most of us waiting for our favorite verses, mine always being - “7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” And “19 But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.” This special and reflective time was followed by the passing out of presents, and the slow opening of these gifts one by one, starting at the youngest and working up to the oldest. Amid the gift wrapping and laughter, and small breaks to stop and munch on homemade goodies, the feeling of love is always abundant.
This year our Christmas tradition will not change, my mom passed away in August, but we will prepare our hearts and home much as we have since I was a child during Advent. We will decorate our Christmas tree, and many treats will be made to be shared with friends and neighbors, and as my daughters and I will look for the perfect gift for each family member and friend and will be reminded of the “true reason of the season”. We will prepare our hearts by reading the Bible and attending church, we will make Lefse and write our families annual Christmas letter. And I will remember the quote from the Grinch. And, I will keep my mother’s loving, kind and Christ like spirit in my heart. My mom loved Christmas and she knew the importance of the gift of Mary’s firstborn son who was lovingly wrapped and laid in a manger and she shared that with each one of us. And amid our Christmas Eve of laughter and perhaps tears we will take small breaks to stop and munch on homemade goodies, talk and know this feeling of love is abundant. And we will remember “Faith is the foundation and content of God’s message; hope is the attitude and focus; love is the action. When faith and hope are in line, you are free to love completely because you understand how God loves.
May you find God’s dream for us when you follow the way of faith, hope and love this Advent season.
This blog is run by the council members of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Logan, UT. For more information, check out our church's website at princeopeace.org.