Category Archives: Traditions

When to Say Thanks

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Yup, that’s me and Robby at our wedding. Photo by Lindsay Osborne.

The following post appeared this week on Lift Up Your Day. Check out their site for more encouraging blogs from other writers.


 

My friend Rachael is getting married this year. She was my wedding planner extraordinaire, and I am attempting to return the favor this year as I plan hers.

Although Robby and I were married just six years ago, I had already forgotten how many details go into a wedding.

 

No Thanks!

One of those details that many brides forget about is the thank-you cards.

I never knew this was an issue until after our wedding. As soon as we got back from the honeymoon, I started writing thank you notes to all our friends and family members who supported us in one way or another, whether they threw us a party, donated to the honeymoon fund, or gave us a traditional gift. We took great care to let everyone know how much we appreciated them.

Then, we started to hear it.

I can’t believe you actually sent me a thank-you card! I haven’t received one of these in years! 

I just can’t thank you enough for my thank-you card! I thought proper etiquette was dead.

I was flabbergasted! I had no idea that people were actually foregoing this most basic of common courtesies.

 

The Faux Pas

Reputable wedding sites (such as Brides.com) still dictate that thank-you cards be handwritten and mailed within three months of the wedding (or within two weeks for engagement and bridal shower gifts). Yet an online search will prove that there is a pervasive trend of thanklessness. It’s so bad that jilted guests are threatening to stop bestowing gifts because no one seems to appreciate them.

Some speculate this might be an issue today because young couples feel a lavish reception is thanks enough for those who attended the wedding or gave them gifts. Well, it’s not. We want our thank-you cards!

 

The Responsibility

Now, the man may be the head of the household, but the woman is the CEO of Hospitality. It’s ultimately our responsibility to keep up with social etiquette, from ensuring the thank-you cards get mailed to stocking toilet paper in the guest bathroom. Guys just don’t think of this stuff.

It’s true that social norms change with the times. However, if you want to keep your friends and earn the respect of your new family (especially your mother-in-law), you’re going to have to write those thank-you cards.

 

The Heart Behind It

As Christians, everything we do is important because we’re representatives of God’s kingdom. Paul even wrote that we should perform all our work “heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men…. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Colossians 3:22-24 NAS).

Thankfulness, in particular, is something we should be ready to share because it’s rooted in love. Not only does love come from God, but Jesus commanded that we love one another as He loved us. Why? “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35 NAS).

 

An Attitude of Gratitude

I’m so proud of my friend Rachael. She’s already purchased her thank-you cards, and she’s included the cost of stamps in her budget. Rachael is prepared to show her appreciation.

If you’re planning to get married soon, I encourage you to approach the thank-you list with an attitude of gratitude. Thank the Lord for your family and friends; thank Him for blessing you with a beautiful wedding, a great husband, and a new life together; thank Him for all the goodies that now fill your home. Then let that spirit of thankfulness overflow as you write to those who cared enough to support you. Your guests will thank you.

“I thank my God always concerning you…” (1 Corinthians 1:4a NAS).

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Christmas Tree Traditions

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Christmas Tree Traditions

 

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Our 2015 Christmas Tree

When Robby and I got married, we had the usual makings of a household – towels, linen, baking dishes, etc. What we didn’t have was a Christmas tree, and I was hesitant to invest in a fake tree, lights, ornaments, and the necessary storage containers. Fortunately, the previous owners left us their old tree and decorations in the attic!

We spent all day pulling out the tree and bags and boxes full of lights and ornaments. Many of the decorations were lovingly homemade and – since the house was built in 1939 – were older than I was. Unfortunately, some of the bags had gotten buggy, but we were able to salvage most of it.

The tree was small, but we learned that it fits perfectly on top of its storage container, which actually looks pretty nice with a tree skirt around it. It also gives us plenty of room to put a few presents under it. There was even an old train car, which we put out every year. We liked the old school lights, but we eventually replaced them with similar ones that are newer and safer.

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Handmade ornament

We still love our old tree. More than anything, we appreciate the connection it gives us to the past and the family that carefully decorated it long before us.

 

New Traditions

 

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Our river otter

Although we’re just a few miles from the capital, our lot is surrounded by trees and is close to a low-lying swampy area, which makes it seem like we’re out in the country. The local wildlife agree, so we see more animals in our yard than we would expect in the city. We’ve even named our yard “Jones Park.”

A couple years ago, I had the idea of a Jones Park Christmas Tree. In addition to the usual lights and colored balls, it would feature ornaments of creatures that we’ve seen on our property. There’s the usual red and blue birds and a squirrel. Then there’s the deer we saw after the Fourth of July fireworks. My favorite is the otter – yes, an otter – that we saw running down our road one morning. I finally found a raccoon last month, and now I’m on the hunt for an armadillo and a possum. You should see the looks on the store clerks’ faces when I ask them if they have any armadillo ornaments! (I know I could just go online, but the year-long hunt is part of the fun.)

We also have some ornaments from the places we’ve visited, like St. Augustine and Boston. These are great reminders of fun trips throughout the years.

 

Hodge Podge

 

I’m not sure what Martha Stewart would say about our hodge podge Christmas tree, with a pine cone fox next to a ceramic figurine from Virginia, but we like it. It seems to represent who we are – a mix of old character with a bit of fun. And we love to show our tree to friends and family, telling them about the owl that stays in our live oak tree and about our trips to the St. Mark’s lighthouse. We also remember to appreciate the family that lovingly built our home and lived in it for so many years. It reminds us to appreciate our own family.

 

The Meaning of the Tree

 

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Reminder of the Cross

Throughout the Old Testament, the symbol of a tree is often used in reference to Jesus. Terms like the Branch, the Branch of the Lord, and the Branch of David are seen in Scriptures such as Isaiah 4:2, Jeremiah 23:5 and 33:15, and Zechariah 6:12. In the New Testament, we see that Jesus dies when He “hangs on a tree,” meaning He is crucified on a wooden cross (Galatians 3:13).

When we put up our Christmas tree each year, we remember these things. The star on top reminds us of the star the three wise men followed to reach the baby Jesus (Matthew 2:2). The tree itself reminds us that Jesus was born so that He might die on a wooden cross (Hebrews 10). The lights remind us that God is Light, and His light shines within us (1 John 1:5 and 2 Corinthians 4:6). Even the silly ornaments remind us that He is with us through every adventure, every day (Matthew 28:20).

If we never put up a Christmas tree, we would still be Christians. If we never had ornaments and presents and watched corny Christmas movies, we would still be His. But thank God for sweet reminders of His sacrifice, His blessings, and His presence that stays with us all year long. These are the real gifts of Christmas.

 

Your Traditions

 

Do you have any neat Christmas traditions (or hacks)? We’d love to hear them! Please share them below in the comments section.