Christmas is the time of the year that we celebrate the birth of Jesus. It is the day we celebrate when God came into the world, when God became man, and to ultimately atone for our sins by his crucifixion. Christmas celebrations are our celebration of God's gift of salvation to us.
One of the most beloved Statehouse Christmas traditions is organized by the first lady. For more than 20 years the Indiana Christmas Tree Growers Association donates a Christmas tree and then students from all over Indiana are asked to mail handmade ornaments to the Statehouse to be hung on the tree. The first lady chooses a theme and this year it was 'Holiday Tales from the Heart'. Once the tree is in place, schools are given the chance to participate in the Statehouse Christmas program where students can hang their own ornaments, hear a story read by the first lady and visit Santa Claus.
There are also many traditions around our communities and in the district that help us prepare for Christmas and celebrate the season. One of the programs that the Messmer family enjoys participating in is the "Journey to Bethlehem" put on at the New Hope Christian Church in Washington in early December. It is a great reenactment of the biblical stories surrounding the birth of Christ, complete with Roman soldiers, live sheep, donkeys and camels!
There a multitude of great Christmas concerts available to enjoy. Over the past couple of weekends my daughter and I were participants in the Veale Creek Community Theater Christmas variety show, playing some trumpet duets as part of the show, and I played acoustic bass for the songs sung during the group vocal arrangements.
A family tradition we have enjoyed for 34 years now is our family Christmas caroling. Back when we were kids, my mom and all of my siblings played a musical instrument. My mom had the idea that we should all play our instruments and go caroling. As our family has grown, our spouses and children have all joined in the group to where it now numbers about 30 participants! We visit the local nursing homes, and the homes of some family and friends around the community. It is a fun night, and an event that my family really looks forward to.
Another Christmas tradition that my wife and I started 25 years ago, after we were newly married, was making Christmas candy to share with our friends and family. Most of our creations have been primarily centered around chocolate (my favorite kind of candy), with turtles being on the top of the list. It has become a family event that keeps us pretty busy the weekend before Christmas, but has also become something my kids really enjoy.
All of these community events and family traditions, the great food and presents, add fun to the Christmas season, but should not replace what we should all be focusing on, and that is keeping Christ in Christmas. So be sure to make time to participate in the Christmas worship services at your church this year, and ask a friend to go along with you. You can find my family at midnight mass on Christmas Eve at Holy Family in Jasper. Our church communities are meant to provide the back bone to our society and look out for one another.
Have a Merry Christmas.