Christmas Traditions

By the time this blog is posted, the holiday season will be well behind us — and with the speed of things, will probably seem like months ago already. But I’m writing this while the events of the season are still fresh in my mind; so before I forget . . . three thoughts on fads and family.

Just because a cliché is corny doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

For example, the Statler Brothers once put an old cliché into a song: “The greatest Christmas present is something you can’t buy” time together. Yep, it’s a cliché, and it’s corny — and it’s still true. (What are some corny clichés that you’ve learned are more true than hackneyed? Or perhaps ones you have learned the hard way are really true? . . . )

Just because a tradition is corny doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be preserved.

Yes, we still go around the table at Thanksgiving for each person to say what they’re thankful for. And, yes, I still buy too much chocolate to fill up the stockings, “hung by the chimney with care” (though we don’t actually have a chimney; our stockings hang on the stair rail). As much as the snarky cartoons and TV sitcoms make such fare fodder for satire, there’s actually a preciousness to these traditions that, however corny, are worth preserving. Little things mean a lot; life’s simple pleasures are the best. (See above paragraph on corny clichés still being true. . . . )

Just because a fad is hip doesn’t mean it’s going to last for long at all.

Did you catch any of the news clips of shoppers fighting for items (presumably Christmas gifts) during the Black Friday sales events? There’s an eeriness to the predictability of this phenomenon. OK, I’m going to resist the urge to comment sanctimoniously on our culture’s commercialism and consumerism.

I will observe, though, that these same mall fights over store items were had in past years — and over what? Cabbage patch dolls; Nintendo 64 sets; CB radios . . . I’ll let you connect the dots on what that says. . . .

Reflecting just a little bit on all this, I recognize that much that is most special and most substantive and most precious in life consists of pursuing and preserving good and wholesome habits over time. Sometimes living well is simply a matter of mundanely putting one foot in front of the other — but in the right direction. This is true in family life. It’s true in life in Christ, too. Eugene Peterson talks about discipleship in Christ being a “long obedience in the same direction.”

If this be true, I wonder what implications there may be for our church life, and life together as a family in Christ. Can we fall into the trap of pursuing the faddish over the mundane but truly important?

Just a question. Just a thought.

About the Author

Todd Mangum

Dr. R. Todd Mangum

Todd Mangum is the Academic Dean and Professor of Theology at Biblical. He is ordained by the Southern Baptist Convention. Todd is the author of The Dispensational-Covenantal Rift, and co-author (with Dr. Paul Pettit of the Howard Hendricks Leadership Center in Dallas, TX) of the just-released book, Blessed are the Balanced: Following Jesus into the Academy (Kregel), and of several articles seeking to bridge divides among Bible-believing Christians. He is married to Linda and they have three sons.

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