Traditions: Rooted in the Past, Ready for the Future

lighting the Christmas tree

Some people are surprised to learn that my father put (and lit) real candles on our Christmas tree when we were growing up. He would only light them on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. And only after certain precautions were taken (a fresh tree, a full bucket of water in the corner, a full tub to easily get more water and someone assigned to open the door if he needed to throw the tree out).

I know, I’ve been told many times how dangerous that was, but it was a very special tradition in my family (and amazingly enough we never had any major problems). Following Danish tradition, Santa would deliver presents on Christmas eve, my father would light the tree, then ring a set of bells to let us know that we could come out from our hiding place (of course Santa would never show himself if there were children around). It was magical to come out and see the Christmas tree all light up.

Then we would listen to Danish Christmas songs. And then we got to open presents. First the stockings, then the larger presents, and then my favorite part – sitting quietly as the candles on the tree went out. The shadows on the ceiling would slowly change based on where the remaining lit candles were remaining. It was a time to reflect and enjoy the moment.

In this hustle and bustle of the holidays, do you traditions that it might be time to resurrect? Any ideas from a slower-paced time that might help you take time to slow down and reflect?

What about in your organizations? Perhaps there are some traditions that your organization has abandoned that you could resurrect. Of course I’m not talking about the ones that were abandoned for a legitimate reason (having livestock as part of the Christmas Eve service at your church may be best kept retired – unless you have a really amazing cleaning team). I am talking about the ones that could help you stay anchored to your past, while still reaching towards the future. The ones that convey a sense of stability and history, and perhaps a bit of nostalgia for a quieter time.

Merry Christmas – and Happy Holidays – to you and yours.


Traditions: Rooted in the Past, Ready for the Future — 2 Comments

  1. Very interesting. Is it OK to send donation requests at this time of year? In /on holiday stationary?

    • Hi Donyta – Definitely ok to send donation requests this time of year – I’d be a little worried if you weren’t :-). And on holiday stationary if you like. Just make sure that you’re letting donors know how you used their last gift – and express your gratitude – before asking for another gift.