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Christmas Traditions: The Strange and Highly Unusual

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When it comes to Christmas traditions, two come to mind.

The first is not unique to our family, but not as well-known as I once assumed.

Who has heard of the Christmas pickle?

Up until very recently, I thought everybody had! Then I saw a note from one of my editors in my upcoming manuscript (the scene involved the pickle), asking what in the world I was talking about. She had to look it up.

Supposedly, it’s an old German tradition, which would make sense. I come from hardy German stock. I grew up calling my great grandma and grandpa Oma and Opa, and I distinctly remember Oma yelling at Opa in German anytime she got upset.  They came to America on a boat as teenagers.

The funny truth, though, is that it’s not actually an old German tradition at all. The funny truth is that nobody is quite sure where this tradition comes from. All I know is that we have one and this is how it works.

First of all, you should know that it’s not food. It’s an ornament, and it comes in varying sizes. Someone hides the green pickle ornament on the tree and the first person to find it gets an extra special gift. We did this when I was younger and we do it now with our son, Brogan.

The second tradition is most definitely unique to my family.

And that tradition is egg salad.

What’s that? Egg salad, you say? On Christmas?

Yes, egg salad sandwiches on Christmas Eve, to be more exact.

Our family is quite large, with lots of aunts and uncles and cousins and second cousins. And every Christmas Eve, for as long as I can remember, we hosted a giant party. It was the thing. The big event. The party my brother and my same-aged cousins and I would eagerly count down to with much anticipation. Because it. was. so. much. fun. It was the night we opened most of the gifts. The night we got to stay up to two in the morning (because the adults were playing cards in the basement). And we ate food! All kinds of food. A whole giant table-full of food.

And every single year,  part of that food included my aunt Peggy’s egg salad.

My aunt Peggy is more like a second mom than an aunt. As a kid, she lived with us. In elementary school, when you’re supposed to draw a picture of your family, my aunt Peggy was in every one. And every year the day before Christmas Eve, I remember her boiling eggs upon eggs upon eggs and peeling them in the sink. A sign that the long-anticipated party was upon us at last!

We still have our annual party. No longer at our house, but at my Uncle Paul and Aunt Lisa’s. Peggy still makes her egg salad. I eat it approximately once every year, on Christmas Eve.

What’s one of your Christmas traditions?

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Stop by each author’s website on these dates, where we’ll share our favorite Christmas memory:

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Go and Tell


Light shines in the darkness. and the darkness has not overcome it.

-John 1:5

Last night I went to a women’s ministry event called Night of Joy.

There were cupcakes and hot chocolate and a boutique where all proceeds went to helping rescue women out of sex trafficking. There was music, and best of all, there was fellowship. Siting around a table, catching up with friends I don’t get to see nearly as much as I’d like.

At seven o’clock, we went into the sanctuary, which was packed, and together we worshiped and listened as a sister in Christ spoke about joy.

Not the fickle, fleeting feeling of happiness. But joy. Deep down, in your bones joy. The kind that has nothing to do with circumstances and everything to do with a person.

She talked about the difference between knowing of God, and actually knowing God.

At the end of the evening, she asked the women who had experienced God as comforter this past year to stand.

I couldn’t stand fast enough, because if there is one thing God has been to me this year, He has been my comfort.

Almost every other single woman stood along with me.

She said to raise our hand if we’ve experienced Him as provider.

I rose my hand high.

She asked us to applaud if we’ve experienced Him as Wonderful Counselor, as someone who’s given us clear direction in the midst of difficult decisions.

I cheered. Because oh, have I.

She went on.

Burden-bearer. Healer. Friend. Father. Rest.  Savior.

Women cheered. Women rose their hands.  Women remained standing.

And then, when she finished, she encouraged us to “go and tell”

Because the world is dark and people are hurting and sometimes, hope is impossible to find.

“Go and tell,” she said, “because this Jesus we worship is too good not to talk about.”

The words are truth.

He is too good not to talk about.

I have seen the risen Savior.

Maybe not with my eyes, but I have seen Him as surely as Mary Magdalene saw Him all those years ago.

He’s brought me joy when there shouldn’t be joy and peace when there shouldn’t be peace. He’s lifted my head. He’s guided my path, especially this year, when we’ve  faced impossibly complicated, confusing decisions. Every single time we hit our knees and begged for guidance, He spoke clearly.

It’s been a year of waiting. A year of missing and yearning and longing. Of frustration and concern and confusion.

And yet, it’s been a good year.

Because He truly is close to the broken-hearted.

He means it when he says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”

Do you know this Jesus? This rest-giver, this heart-mender?

I don’t mean do you know of Him. I don’t mean do you go to church. I don’t mean do you call yourself a Christian.

I mean, do you know Him, know Him?

If you don’t, there’s no better time than the advent season to taste and see. To sit and know.

The Bible says that God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true.

Well, God promises that if we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us.

So friends, let’s draw near to Him this Christmas season. Let’s draw near and see what He does.

How have you experienced God’s comfort, peace, and provision this past year?

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