Advent Devotions 2022

Youthful Traditions

Posted by Janet Romano on


Christmas is a time to reflect, a time to share and make memories with family and friends, and a time to rejoice in all the traditions our church does in the holidays. For me, some of my best church family memories revolve on the sixteen-plus years Jim and I were involved with the youth program. Our time involved four (maybe five?) youth directors, retreats, mission trips, graduations, summer camps, scavenger hunts, lock-ins, and my favorite, the Christmas traditions we carried from year to year.

Long before Christmas for All, every year our youth received a list of names from the housing authority. We shopped for gifts for them, took them shopping for their families, and drove through their neighborhoods to transport them for Breakfast with Santa with a sack full of goodies to take back to their families. The gift of giving back to the children was special to the receivers as well as the givers. 

Another wonderful tradition was the living nativity scene we held on the front lawn. The youth would take turns being shepherds, wise men and Mary and Joseph. Some years we had live animals. There was always an angel, someone who was brave enough to stand on the top of a 16 ft ladder for an hour, or more, mostly hoping it was not too windy.

My favorite was the traditional youth progressive dinner. Picture planning 3-4 homes, each willing to host 30 plus teens plus volunteer adults, for appetizers, dinner, and dessert. The favored slot was the dessert because they also hosted the dirty Santa (now White Elephant) gift exchange. The kids were so creative in the items they chose to wrap and exchange: half-eaten boxes of candy, dirty socks, old school projects. One year the most coveted and sought after gift was John Oakley’s football mouthpiece. It actually made appearances in the gift exchange for two years after that!

These youth, a generation of our church, hold a special place in my heart. They are now attorneys, teachers, architects, engineers, CEOs, administrators, real estate brokers, and even pastors/ children's ministry directors (yes, Rebecca and John!). Some are spread out across the country, and some are the parents of the youth in our church today. It makes my heart smile to see these families growing up in the same pews their parents did.

My hope is that some of these traditions left a memory, a smile, and a wish for the Christmas spirit to pass on to new generations and reflect the love of the Spirit of Christmas.

My wish is that the Christmas season brings you the opportunity to make wonderful memories to be cherished for generations to come 

Thank you, Lord, for this season of traditions, hope, joy, peace, and sharing your love with our family, our church family!


Homemade Christmas Aroma
Dell Gibson

(NOT for consumption)

1 quart pineapple juice
1 quart apple cider
1 quart water
4 slices ginger
16 whole cloves
3 sticks cinnamon
1 tsp. allspice
2 tsp. pickling spice
optional: whole cranberries, fruit slices, rosemary sprigs, etc.

Combine all ingredients in a large kettle and bring to boiling. Boil for several minutes. Remove from stove and transfer to a slow cooker/crock pot. Set on low and enjoy your Christmas aroma all day long!


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