Merry Christmas Traditions

It happened this year. One of our Merry Christmas Traditions ended.  Our smallest tent member broke through the Santa code…she is in the know.  (I cried more than she did.)  So this Christmas we end a Merry Christmas Tradition in our tent and we are shopping for new ones.  We are looking for new ways to connect with each other and our faith.

As we look for new traditions, we are mindful that time has changed all of us this year.  We are taller, wider, wiser, grayer, happier and teenage-ier.  Our Merry Christmas Traditions from last year may not reflect who we are today like they did years before.  It’s time to discover some new traditions.

Family life constantly experiences change.  Marriage requires an end of selfishness and a beginning to constant forgiveness.  They say a baby changes everything. As that baby grows, due to a strong diet of food and water, she develops into a little adult.  Just when you get used to piles of laundry and a house full of friends,  that little adult packs and moves to a college (hopefully).  Then she receives a pay check (we pray) one day.  Family life becomes more about savoring precious moments, encouraging one another to be your best self and celebrating life together every chance you get.

The Holy Family must have shared similar experiences.  Their lives were full of moves, growth, questions and divine experiences.  They depended on their faith and each other to embrace their stages in life.  They shared joy and they shared heartache under the same roof.  They created the biggest Merry Christmas Tradition and yet we know that their experience did not stop at the manger. There was more to their story. They added new Merry Christmas Traditions each year that connected them with each other and faith.

As we are shopping for new Merry Christmas Traditions, we are discovering that there are millions of ways to spend this holiday together all around our world.  The manger will always be a part of our Christmas story.  We are excited to add more traditions to our story.  We are also discovering how feelings that come with this season like joy, peace, love and hope are a part of every Merry Christmas Tradition.  These classic feelings are unwrapped through hugs, warm fires, winter breaks, family, hot chocolate, Christmas cards, friends and beautiful music.

Enjoy your Merry Christmas Traditions this year…the old and the new ones!

“Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. Luke 2:15-16

Merry Christmas Happy Tent Families!

Meredith Bell

For Unto Us a Child is Born

This week on the side of the freezer door I discovered an original piece of art work titled, “For Unto Us a Child is Born.” I discovered it late in the night while doing another load of laundry.  Our washing machine decided this week was a good week to stop working. While it was on strike, mountains of laundry grew taller and taller every day.  The only way to stop the annoying magic trick was to tackle the laundry during the late shift.  With six minutes left on the washing cycle, my eyes drifted to the much over-looked piece of art work on the side of the freezer.  

“For Unto Us a Child is Born” gave me pause.  The artist focused on the star above the manger and the small stable.  The manger glowed under the star.  The city stayed a city.  It probably did not even have time to notice what was happening just a few miles away.  Everything was happening a few miles away.

Isaiah says, “For unto us a child is born and authority will be on his shoulders.” This child, Isaiah says, will help those in darkness see light, bring dawn to the dark night, increase joy, shatter burdens.  This child will be wonderful, mighty, and eternal.  I have to wonder, where is this child today in our lives?

The artist of “For Unto Us a Child is Born” gives us an idea of where to find this child.  We can find the child who holds light in a simple place like a manger (or the laundry room).  We can find the child who increases joy in a place that gives us pause so our souls can catch up.  We can find the child who removes burdens under a starry night.

This original piece of art work reminds me that the Christ child is, always, and forever will be in a place we least expect, at a time we didn’t plan for and always give us a glimpse into an eternal moment that we pray will last forever.

The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. Isaiah 9:7

From our Happy Christmas Tent to Yours,

Meredith Bell


Just Imagine

My daughter loves to play dress up. Just this weekend, she was dressing up and making me guess who she was pretending to be. She would say, “Gabriel talked to me and now I have a baby, who am I?” To me she looked like my daughter in high heels holding a baby doll with a shawl wrapped around her. To her, she was Mary holding baby Jesus.

Using our imaginations can be lots of fun…even for adults. Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

The power of imagination is the ultimate creative power. One dramatic example of the power of vivid imagination is that of Air Force Colonel George Hall. He was a POW locked in the dark box of a North Vietnamese prison for seven grueling years. Every day Hall played a full game of golf in his imagination. One week after he was released from his POW camp he entered the Greater New Orleans Open and shot a 76.

There is a popular Christmas song called, “Mary did you know” that you have probably heard before. It is a beautiful song that taps in to our imaginations. Did Mary know that Jesus would walk on water, heal the blind, raise the dead? Did Mary know that she was holding the great I Am?

From scripture we know that Mary must have known that her encounter with the Holy Spirit was unusual and a gift from God by the way she responds with her song of praise. It is evident that Mary knew God and God knew Mary. She shares that her soul praises the Lord and her spirit rejoices. She feels blessed and chosen. Even though she may not understand her small part in God’s big plan, she certainly understands God’s mercy and God’s active role in her life and the world. Her song is a beautiful account that answers the question to the song, “Mary did you know?” In my imagination she answers back, “I did personally know God and that was all that I needed.”

As we continue to approach the manger this week, how can we tap into our imaginations to experience the birth of Jesus in a new way?  What sounds come to mind when we think of the angels?  What smells come to mind when we think of the stable?  What do we see in the twinkling stars and in Mary’s arms?  What feelings like joy or peace do you feel? Imagine being there and witnessing such a beautiful moment in our world that would change the world forever.

I imagine you still have a to-do list to take care of this week.  Add some imagination time to your list.  You could even play dress-up! Your errands will be a lot more fun and it may be just what you need to help your soul prepare for Christmas.

 Mary responded, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!” Luke 1:46

Merry Christmas,

Meredith Bell

The Christmas Bat

No matter how much you prepare or plan, the Christmas season always brings its own surprises.  Jesus’ mother Mary certainly was surprise as was her friend Elizabeth on that first Christmas.  The surprises make memories (and in Mary’s case transformed the world!).

How you handle surprises is what is important.  We had an unexpected guest in our tent recently.  I decided to handle it with humor.  Below is an amateur poem about the visit.  Enjoy!


‘Twas the FIRST OF DECEMBER and all through the house not a creature was stirring…except for something that looked like a mouse.

Stockings (still needed to be) hung by the chimney with care because St. Nicolas would soon be there.

The children were nestled and all snug in their beds as the agenda of the day began dancing in Mamma’s head. When the alarm clock made such a clatter, I sprang from my bed and discovered the CHRISTMAS BAT (on the kitchen floor) and could not be madder.

Away from the kitchen I flew like a flash, torn open the doors and with a broom prepared to smash.

The light in the room illuminated the object below and it was indeed a little black CHRISTMAS BAT just saying HELLO!

When what to my wondering eyes should appear but small little feet, two wings and pointy ears. More rapid than eagles I shouted out names “Oh Jesus! Dear God! Oh, where is STEVEN! Go Sam (the dog) fetch the bat (duck)…why are you acting so tame?” To the top of the ceiling to the top of the shelves, the bat dashed away, dashed away, dashed away and…disappeared just like Santa’s elves.

FOUR NIGHTS LATER as I was turning around, that little CHRISTMAS BAT came back to town. He was still dressed all in fur from his head to his foot and he made five laps around the living room as I sat by the chimney soot.

He was loudly ECHOLOCATING trying to find a way out and all I could do was yell, “Steven! Get the Bat!” with a shout!

With a wink of his eye and a twist of his head, Steven soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread. He spoke not a word but went straight to his work, grabbed lots of blankets and turned with a jerk, and put on gloves, a hat and long sleeve clothes, and giving a nod, out the door that CHRISTMAS BAT goes.

He slammed the door shut and gave the dog, Sam, a little whistle and they talked about how that CHRISTMAS BAT flew like a missile. But I heard him exclaim, ere he walked out of sight.

Merry Christmas, CHRISTMAS BAT, and to all…good night!

From our Tent to Yours,

Meredith Bell