Smoky Mountain Family Historian

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas Church Services

Did your family attend religious services during the Christmas season? What were the customs and traditions involved?

I grew up in the Bible Belt. We went to church every time the doors were open, so yes, we attended any services held during the Christmas season. However, we did not have Christmas Eve services at our church unless it happened to fall on Sunday night or Wednesday night while I was growing up. About the only tradition at the church in which I grew up was the children's Christmas pageant. Once in a blue moon, we might put together a cantata, but it was rare. As a musically-inclined person, I wish we had done more musicals or cantatas, but realistically, I know that the talent just wasn't in our church to pull one off.

In fact, it was not until I moved to Cincinnati in the mid-1980s that I even knew what an advent wreath was. I guess the church in which I grew up considered that too Catholic or something. All, or maybe I should say most, of the Protestant churches in the Cincinnati area observed Advent. I was told it was because there were so many Catholics in the Cincinnati area that there were many former Catholics in all the churches to which this custom was very special. Now that I'm back in the South, I have to admit that I do sometimes miss the way Advent was celebrated in that area.

When I was in Cincinnati, one of the other "new" traditions for me was a "Chrismon" tree. This was a tree that we'd decorate each year with symbols that had to do with Jesus. I remember cross-stitching Alpha and Omega (the Greek Letters) one year for it. All the symbols were in gold and white. There was a special Sunday evening service where the tree was decorated. We have a Chrismon tree at my church in Tennessee, but I'm not sure who decorates it. It just usually appears by the first of December.

As an adult, I've always been a part of the music program at whatever my home church was at the time. I participate as a choir member in the musical we are doing that year. I've already mentioned The Living Christmas Tree. That is what we do at the church where I'm a member now. It combines a musical and drama, and I sing tenor. [I came down with a cold this year right before the Living Christmas Tree. Our music minister saw me on the night of the first performance after I'd been out for both dress rehearsals and asked how I was. I opened my mouth and started talking. He said, "Oh, my, you're a bass." He asked last night if I was better. I told him that I might be up to baritone. He laughed.] Tonight is the last performance for this year. I believe that they will place it online, and if that is the case, I'll post a link when it is available. I just haven't been able to find the picture from a few years back that I used to have.

Next Sunday, I'll be singing at my Mom and Dad's church. I will probably sing "Cherish That Name" and "O Holy Night."

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