Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Simple Pleasures: Slightly Odd Christmas Traditions

So the story goes that my mother-in-law, many years ago, was cross-stitching a new ornament for the Christmas tree.  Etched upon the white background, in festive green and red, was the simple word, "NOEL."  Well, at least it said that until she stitched on the ornament hanger upside down.  Being the ever-loving husband that he is, my father-in-law chuckled and said, "Look, honey, you made a LEON."  Being the good sport that she is, she dried her tears, laughed, and a tradition was born.  It was a big deal every year for the kids, who got to hang this LEON.  It stretched even into the years when the kids were bringing home potential spouses.  I distinctly remember the year that I got to hang it on their tree.  It is a rite of passage, a sign that you are welcomed into the family, a symbol of inclusion.

All the kids are grown up, married, and beholders of their own LEONs, so it is now not so much about hanging the original LEON as it is about hanging our own LEONs.  This year, it was my oldest daughter's turn.  Daddy lovingly scoped out the perfect branch, one that would be brilliantly back-lit by a white light.  Pictures were taken.  Smiles of pride beamed from Abby's face.  LEON had taken up residence in the newest of the family trees.  Home at last.

This year, after we had finished decorating the tree, I happened to glance up at the mantel.  Instead of the stocking holders spelling out the traditional NOEL, they now spelled...you guessed it...LEON.  My sweet Abby, still giddy with her precious responsibility, decided to take the tradition one step further.  My instinct was to laugh, tussle Abby's hair, and then quickly rearrange the letters back into their proper place.  You know, it is Christmas and all.

Yes, it is Christmas and all, which should mean there is room for the unexpected.  Who would have expected the Messiah to be born in a manger, surrounded by lowing animals and hay?  Who would have expected that His mother would be a young, common Jewish girl, whose hope was to marry the carpenter down the street?  Who would have expected that the King He was to become, would revel not in gold and glitz, but in the poor, needy, and helpless people.  To our eyes, there is nothing proper or perfect about these scenes.  And yet, they were created by the One who is perfect Himself. 

This Christmas, I pray that your simple pleasures would be found in the imperfect and unexpected.

I'm linking up with Dayle at Simple Pleasures.
Project Simple Pleasures2

20 comments :

  1. One of our former pastors family's also does LEON. They "named" their tree LEON and put the letters hanging all together with the spelling on the tree... but also on their mantle they have a wooden LEON that is beautiful. They have had their traditon for many years~ I'm not sure how it originated. I'll have to ask!

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  2. Very fitting since LEON means lion. They both work don't they. ;)

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  3. What a beautiful message tied in with a heartwarming story.

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  4. Cute post. It shows that acceptance is the answer to all my life's problems and situations, right? Thanks and Merry Holidays! Susan

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  5. What a wonderful family tradition !!thanks for sharing

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  6. I LOVE THIS!! I literally said, "Amen" when I got the last part about the unexpected.

    I love your LEON tradition. It's precious and priceless. I'm positive that I would want to meet your family because any family with a tradition like this is the kind of family for me.

    I'm so glad you wrote this. LOVED it.

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  7. Love this story, Jen. As one who is the queen of imperfections, I can laugh and relate so well. What a great tradition, filled with meaning. It's always good to see you at the Simple Pleasures party.

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  8. I love the simple joy in being our imperfect selves.

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  9. Dearest One! Thank you for sharing our story. Steve hung Leon today. When Steve hung Leon,it felt like God had connect each of our family member's hearts as one - stretched from one home to the others. Leon's story is memory that has taken a life of its own into each generation. Loved Abby's addition! It goes to show that when even when there are imperfections that Love makes it something beautiful and meaningful. So, when we look in mirror and perceive imperfection, may we be reminded that Jesus thinks we are precious and beautiful and worthy of the best gifts of all - His Love and Sacrifice. Love you, thank God that you were given by God to our family. We are blessed!

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  10. and who would expect that He would make the difference to my Jewish heart....so glad He did and love your LEON story.

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  11. Great family story and tradition.

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  12. Thanks for sharing this with us. Love is expressed in ways we cannot fathom.

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  13. Just wonderful!!!
    Found you on the December Blog Hop on Bloggymoms! Happy to be following you! I look forward to reading through more of your site...

    Anna, The Pilot's Wife
    Follow My Blog At:
    http://www.pilotwife.blogspot.com
    Enter Weekly Drawing for a Free Candle!
    http://pilotwife.blogspot.com/p/free-candle-drawing.html

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  14. Loved your story! It's great that you are carrying on the tradition.

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  15. Now, this is just tooooo cute! Just adding those precious memories to the "memory bank." I love it!

    Heavenly blessings to you dear! Hugs!

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  16. Jen, I think your family tradition is wonderful! Belonging to Christ makes us a peculiar people-so why not do things a little 'different'!
    I LOVED your Leon story :-) blessings..Trish

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