Every family has holiday traditions that are uniquely theirs. Maybe it’s the tree trimming, a special event that ushers in the season, or getting together at grandma’s house. For my family, it was “breaking bread” after our Candlelight Communion service on Christmas eve.
Our minister, Dr. Ed Pickard, was a first person story teller. He wrote beautiful first person Christmas stories in the voice of the visitors to the Christ child’s manger. From the grumpy innkeeper to the humble shepherd, each year the story was unique and carried its own special message. It just wasn’t Christmas if you missed his story.
Mother was a bread-baker. She loved baking her own breads throughout the holiday season. Days were preparing her specialty loaves and pastries for our celebration. After the Christmas Eve service she would invite guests back to our home to “break bread.”
As heavenly confections were baked, she would talk about Aunt Wilma who gave her the recipe or Aunt Vi whose recipe for egg custard pie was the best. Always she would include foods made from recipes passed down by her own mother, Big Mama.
Our brightly decorated home turned festive as guests arrived. The table, laden with breads, cookies, cakes and pies. Homemade fig and pear preserves, orange marmalade, spiced applesauce and muscadine jelly adorned ornate glass bowls. All these were luscious treats that she and I had painstakingly picked, peeled, pared, cooked and put into jars the summer and fall before.
Mother is no longer with us. But her tradition lives on. I never bake a loaf of bread or put homemade preserves on my table without remembering mother and her love for gathering friends around her table to break bread on Christmas eve.
Traditions are important and give us ties that bind us as family, neighbors, friends and community. And they are as diverse as the homes in which we live.
By Colleen Perry