At our house Christmas, had always meant baking cookies. So I had to do something. Daniel needed a Christmas cookie so I planned my crime.
One cold December day, I mixed up a small batch of gingerbread dough and rolled it out onto the counter. Choosing the smallest gingerbread man cookie cutter, I cut myself an array of the one-inch gingerbread men.
Lined in neat little rows on the baking sheet, I then poked holes in the top before shoving them into the hot oven. Once the cookies cooled, I selected the best one to be my contraband. With a beautiful red ribbon slipped through the hole, it made a wonderful necklace.
The next Saturday Tim and I drove to the prison for our weekly visit with Daniel. I especially dressed in Christmas colors to help conceal my little friend as he draped shamelessly around my neck. You could hardly tell it was a cookie.
I was a little nervous as we walked up to the main entrance. If the guards suspected I was a smuggler, I would be banned from visiting Daniel for the rest of his sentence.
Inside the guard station, I took off my coat with the cookie still resting safely on my chest. The guard checked my coat pockets while the gingerbread man and I walked through the metal detector. Suspecting nothing, the guard patted me down. I felt confident when we were approved for entry into the visiting area.
Tim and I chose a table in a far off corner so Daniel would be free to eat his cookie. As soon as he entered the room I was on my feet. When we hugged I whispered in his ear, “How do you like my necklace?”
Back in our seats, we made casual conversation, but Daniel couldn’t take his eyes off the gingerbread man.
Finally, Daniel said, “OK, now.” I broke the cookie free and discreetly slid it across the table. In one slick move, Daniel popped the entire cookie in his mouth. His head went back, his eyes closed, and he slowly chewed. I was so proud to have brought a little tradition into my son’s life.
Traditions are a wonderful part of the holiday season. But they are best kept flexible.
When you think about it, long
ago a poor traveling couple found no room in the inn. The woman gave birth in a cold Bethlehem barn. Not the circumstances Mary and Joseph envisioned for the birth of their son. It had to be disappointing that all they had waited for seemed to take place in such a peculiar way.
And yet, over two thousand years later the story of the birth of Christ continues to bring peace to an otherwise chaotic world.
I believe Christmas is best celebrated in spite of the world around us. And we must do whatever possible to bring the peace of the manger into each other’s lives. Even if it means bending a tradition to make if fit our circumstances.