December 25th is the day I celebrate Jesus’ birthday. He came so that I can have eternal life. That is the foundation of my faith and it makes me who I am. If I told you a secret, do you promise you won’t get upset? Okay, here goes. I’m not a fan of the Christmas season.
Now before you call me Scrooge or Mr. Grinch, please hear me out. I get excited when I hear Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas” on the radio. Mariah Carey’s version of “Oh Holy Night” is so anointed that it brings me to my knees as I weep and worship my Savior. I enjoy my brother’s “Elf on a Shelf” posts on Facebook, and experiencing my niece and nephew opening their gifts from Santa Christmas morning. My church’s Christmas Eve services feature a live nativity and I take advantage of my usher privileges to get close to my camels (yes, I claim them as my own). I take pleasure in giving gifts to friends and loved ones when I’m financially able to. It pretty much stops there.
My paternal grandmother died of a massive heart attack two weeks before Christmas in 2005. Granny lived in an upstairs apartment at my mother’s home, and my younger brother found her as he was delivering her Sunday paper. My three brothers and I had a special bond with Granny because she had lived with us practically our entire lives. Her death devastated us. At her funeral the pastor did not give a eulogy, but instead came down from the pulpit and sang “I Won’t Complain” to my family and ended the service. He recognized our grief, and would not allow the theatrics that often take place at Black funerals. His ministry of song started the healing process for me. Christmas hasn’t been the same since.
As kids we’d wake up around 4am on Christmas morning to see what Santa brought us. After we opened our presents, we’d wake our parents, show them and then march upstairs to Granny’s around 5am. After banging on the door for what seemed like forever Granny would let us in, playfully fussing the entire time.
“Why you all always want to wake me up so early? Can’t you at least wait until morning?”
“But Granny, it IS morning! Can we have some cake?”
“I don’t know why y’all want to eat cake so early. I need my sleep. Did you at least bring your own sweet milk?”
I chuckle at that memory – Granny only drank buttermilk. One of us always had to run back downstairs to grab the milk. Granny cut each of us two pieces of cake – 1 slice of German Chocolate and 1 slice of Coconut. Granny made what she called “tray cakes” because she baked the layers in 15x10 jelly roll pans. You can imagine her cakes were huge and so were the slices. We also got a slice of pound cake (the real deal), egg pie and sweet potato pie. It was all about the sweets! My mother didn’t like this tradition, but held her tongue because Granny was my father’s mother. Even after one of my brother’s and I left home, we returned Christmas morning for cake with Granny. I wonder how many calories we consumed between 1977 and 2004? And thankfully none of us have diabetes!!!
Many other family traditions centered around Granny and they were buried with her. One tradition has remained, and that is eating German Chocolate Cake and Coconut Cake for breakfast. My same mother who wasn’t a fan of Granny’s sugar feast now brings the cakes to my brother’s home and encourages her grandson and granddaughter to eat cake as soon as we arrive. And no they haven’t had breakfast yet. All I can do is smile. Maybe Christmas won’t be so bad after all.
Question: What is a Christmas tradition that you will pass on to the next generation?
Scripture: Luke 2:1-21