All posts tagged: Christmas

Tenement Museum

A war on whose Christmas?

On Tuesday I spent a good part of the day at the Tenement Museum, on New York’s Lower East Side.  I was there to meet with the museum’s new president, Kevin Jennings, and to tour their new Under One Roof exhibit with Annie Polland, the EVP for Programs and Interpretation.  An affiliate historic site of the National Trust, the Tenement Museum tells the full American story about how many have come together to make our nation today. Which brings me to the so-called War on Christmas. The day I arrived, Kevin had just published an op-ed in Newsweek entitled “A War on Christmas?  What Christmas Are You Talking About?”  Early in the piece he asks the key question: “In recent years, a new holiday tradition seems to have emerged in America. From pundits to Presidents, the airwaves fill each December with people decrying the so-called “War on Christmas.” As a historian and museum President, I find myself wanting to ask “War on whose Christmas?” Those bemoaning the “War on Christmas” harken back to a mythical …

Singing at Christmas Day Dinner

Merry Christmas 2016

Several years ago we first volunteered to help serve Christmas dinner at our parish.  This is a wonderful tradition that we had just discovered.  Several hundred people – some homeless, some single, some elderly without family nearby, some simply wanting someone else to cook for them – come together for several hours of turkey, stuffing, pies, caroling, and conversation. That first year, as we were leaving, one of the children said, “Can we make this a regular part of our Christmas Day tradition?”  We’ve been there ever since. Because Andrew and Claire were born five days before Christmas, we have always waited to jump into the season until after we celebrate their birthdays.  Plus, Candice and I have always wanted to focus on Advent, and then celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas through until Epiphany on January 6th. But this year we’ve actually scaled back some of the past over-the-top holiday celebrations.  Our decorations are simpler. We are content to be together as a family around a dinner table.  (No cell phones, please.) And just …

Merry Christmas 2011

For a holiday filled with so many traditions, each year’s celebration of Christmas is different.  Some years the celebration revolves around visits with family.  In fact, so much of what I remember about Christmas from my childhood involves “visiting Mamaw and Papaw’s house” with a passel full of cousins and the accompanying aunts and uncles. But there are also years where other considerations over-shadow the holiday.  In 1997, mom was one week away from dying (she passed away on New Year’s day in 1998), while Candice’s father passed away on December 26, 2008.  In both instances we were able to be with our parents over the holiday season, but the focus was understandably elsewhere. This has been a quiet Christmas.  And that’s been fine. The quiet holiday can have its own special joys.  Some of the things I’ll recall from Christmas 2011 include: The joy of early gifts.  About 10 days ago, we visited the neurologist for a four-month check-up after Candice’s fall and the resulting seizures and severe concussion in late August.  To hear …

Merry Christmas 2009

We left the blizzard of 2009 behind us and headed out to Tennessee to visit with family and friends for the Christmas season.  It has been rejuvenating and restful to be with those folks you don’t choose, but with whom you share so much. Some highlights: Seeing my 84-year-old father with 11 of his 13 grandchildren and all five of his great-grandchildren. (He’ll get to see the other two grandchildren next weekend.) Having Andrew and Claire reconnect with all their cousins and their cousins’ children. The latter group includes two babies born about four months ago (Leighton) and just 10 days ago (Oliver).  Little babies are such great additions to Christmas. Visiting with my sister and her family who have returned to the states after 17+ years overseas. Their older son David is maturing into a wonderful young man while their younger son Nathan is full of life and mischief.  My brother-in-law is a real artist in the wood shop, having built most of the beautiful furniture in their house by himself.  And it was …