Christmas Customs: From Our Family to Yours

Christmas Customs: From Our Family to Yours

There is no right or wrong way to celebrate Christmas. Some families continue traditional ethnic customs; others invent new ways of connecting with family. Our Christmases are seldom Martha Stewart-perfect, and every year’s celebration will be different due to many factors.

St. Anthony Messenger magazine is not just the names you read on our masthead. We are part of a full religious publishing company, which includes Web offerings, books (St. Anthony Messenger Press and Servant Books), newsletters, homily services, a radio program, videos and audiobooks. As with most mission-oriented businesses (ours is “sharing the Gospel in the style of Sts. Francis, Clare and Anthony”), the 120 employees of St. Anthony Messenger Press have become family. We are a family of families—with the same issues as yours.

I recently interviewed several employees at St. Anthony Messenger Press about how they celebrate Christmas and strive to keep Christ in their hearts this time of year. In the coming weeks, more of their reflections will be shared. These stories are a gift from our family to yours.

Sharon Cross, product manager for media production, is a single woman whose favorite Church season is Advent. An Oblate of St. Benedict and a member of Bellarmine Parish at Xavier University, a Jesuit institution, Sharon focuses on the liturgies and readings for the season. “I love to see the light getting stronger as more candles are lit on the Advent wreath, the excitement when we get to light the pink candle for Gaudete Sunday [the third Sunday of Advent]. I think about the three comings of Jesus: in history, into my life (especially at Communion) and at the end of time.”

Her favorite Christmas occurred a couple of years ago when Cincinnati received 22 inches of snow on December 23 and nearly everyone’s Christmas plans were derailed. “Lots of people couldn’t get out to where they intended to go, so the neighbors had Christmas together, all throwing in whatever they had.”

Chris Holmes of our marketing department and his wife, Elizabeth, have four children. Their special memories of Christmas also involve the Advent wreath. “It’s exciting for the boys (C.J., 11, Chase, nine, Karston, six, and Kyle, six) to see our pastor, Father Mario Tizziano, light another candle on the Advent wreath in church. This reminds us of what we are waiting for. At home we have our own Advent wreath in the center of our kitchen table.

“This is often a major project because I usually have trouble finding the wreath amid all the Christmas decorations. Many years the candles have melted over the summer when stored in our garage. Then I have to run out to get new ones. Finding pink and purple isn’t very easy, either. Sometimes we have blue and pink, or even red and gold candles.

“The most important thing is not the correct color, but keeping the tradition alive. Whatever the candles’ color, my oldest son, C.J., still likes to light them each night in Advent. Before we eat, we pray and then sing, ‘O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.’ After dinner, my three younger sons love to blow out the candles.”

Stay tuned for more Christmas-themed meditations from the employees at St. Anthony Messenger Press!

Photos taken from Catholic Greetings, Catholic e-cards for all occasions. Send one today!


About the Author

Barbara Beckwith is the managing editor of "St. Anthony Messenger" magazine. A graduate of Marquette University’s College of Journalism, she is a former president of the Catholic Press Association of the United States and former vice president of the International Catholic Union of the Press.
  • Barbara Baker

    Barbara, I look forward to reading more of these stories!

    BTW, here’s a link to my Advent wreath:

    (Note the used pink candle from last year.)