Our Family Tradition: “Christmas Adam”
I love Christmas stories. Besides having a whole bookcase full of Christmas books, I have an annual tradition of writing a new story myself to send as a greeting to friends. Every year on “Christmas Adam” my wife and I host a story party, a gathering of friends and neighbors who are invited to bring a story or a poem to read aloud. I present my new story, someone brings a guitar, and everyone brings a plate of goodies. Together, we read and sing and chew and chat the evening away. No finer entertainment can be found anywhere.
What, you may be wondering, is Christmas Adam? In my family this is what we call the day before Christmas Eve. Similarly, Boxing day is Christmas Cain (or sometimes Christmas Candy Cane) and the day after is Christmas Abel, and so on. Such fun!
Recording Christmas Eve: A Treasured Gift
My friend Susan Delong also loves Christmas stories. Each year she chooses a special story to read to her family on Christmas Eve. “Often,” she says, “I select a story because it connects with something that has happened in the family that year.”
Susan’s Christmas Eve story tradition spans many years. Each year she writes a summary of the story she reads, and a brief account of her thoughts about it. She includes other details of the evening, including who is there, what they eat, what they sing, the general ambiance. Then, after producing a good copy of her journal entry, along with a copy of the story, she presents this to each of her children for inclusion in a loose-leaf scrapbook. What a treasure is this record of family Christmas Eves!
To illustrate, here is what Susan wrote one Christmas:
“Christmas Eve found us with a full house. Not only did Rachel, George, Paul and Lochlann join us from Cranbrook, but Jennifer and David brought along Oma to spend Christmas and Boxing Day with us. After attending the candlelight service at Grace Baptist, we settled down in front of the fire to listen to our annual Christmas story while we munched on a wide selection of cookies, tarts, and squares.
“This year’s story was The Beautiful Christmas Tree by Charlotte Zolotow. It is a story about how a peculiar man moves into a rundown house on a city street and not only cleans up the house but also plants a scrawny little pine tree one Christmas. As Mr. Crockett cares for his sapling he says, “Living things need love and care.” As the tree grows, he extends that love and care to the birds by scattering food for them around the tree. One Christmas Eve carolers sing outside Mr. Crockett’s house, startling the birds in the pine tree. When they settle back onto the tree’s branches, they look like living ornaments with a white dove on top. As Mr. Crockett watches this from his window and hears the carolers and the birds singing together, he calls it “a chorus of love” and knows that “this is what Christmas is all about.”
“When we came to the part in the story about the carolers, we sang ‘Joy to the World’:
Joy to the world! The Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heav’n and nature sing. And heaven and nature sing.
And heav’n—and heav’n and nature sing.
“Then, when the story was over, I read 1 Corinthians 13:
Love never gives up. Doesn’t keep score …
Love cares more for others than for self …
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have;
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth …
“It was a beautiful moment and we all basked in the glow of the presence of Christ.”
Hearing of Susan Delong’s tradition, how I wished I had done the same and kept a record of all the Christmas Eves in our family! Truly, thanks to the Birthday Boy, each one has been a precious and magnificent time. When I suggested to Susan that she might develop her Christmas journal into an actual book, she demurred, but she did offer to make a copy of her scrapbook just for me. I couldn’t be happier!
My Christmas Stories
Above, I mentioned my tradition, now thirty years old, of writing my own Christmas stories, a few of which have been featured in Susan Delong’s Christmas Eves. My best stories have now been collected into a book, Twenty-One Candles: Stories for Christmas. One of these tales, called “Yabbakadoodles,” is about Christmas Adam. Another one, “In the Stillness of the Night,” was inspired by an incident that happened to Susan’s husband, Alan, while playing his penny whistle in an old railway tunnel. If you’ve ever visited the Othello Tunnels in Hope, B.C., you’ll recognize the setting!
Thanks, Alan and Susan for your inspiration.