Some Christmas traditions are passed down through generations. Others are established intentionally to preserve the part of Christmas that is important to a family. Sometimes though, traditions rise out of the ashes of human tragedy.
In 1999, a family of six was involved in a tragic car accident. Three of the four children who were injured in the accident would not have made it had it not been for the heroic actions of the rescue personnel who arrived at the scene. Several months after that awful day, the children, having finally been released from the hospital, traveled back to the rescue service stations to personally thank the men and women who had so bravely fought for their lives but it just didn’t seem to be enough.
In their hometown, the fire company has a tradition of putting hundreds of lights on the fire trucks and rescue vehicles on Christmas Eve. Santa Claus climbs aboard the ladder truck and the vehicles travel from one neighborhood to the next blowing their horns with sirens blaring. The firefighters walk alongside handing out candy canes and toys to the children who come out to see them.
The family who was saved by the firefighters decided that one year they would turn the tables on them and instead of receiving candy canes from the fire company would instead give goodies to the fire station for those working on Christmas day to enjoy. They set to work. They baked cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning and put them in a gift box along with cookies, caramel corn, candy, hot chocolate, microwave popcorn, hard tack candy and a thank you card explaining how appreciative they were for people who risk their lives to save the lives of others. (After all, that is what happened the first Christmas when Christ came to earth with the sole mission of selflessly giving his life for the world.) The children stood anxiously along the road awaiting the fire trucks arrival and were delighted when the firefighter received their gift with a surprised, but appreciative smile and a tear in his eye. From that time on, they asked every year to do it again and it soon became a Christmas tradition.
Even though those children are now young adults, you will still find them standing along the side of the road on Christmas Eve with their box of goodies in hand. Some of the neighbors who have seen them do this every year have also jumped on board and offer their own gifts and thanks to the firefighters.
For them, Christmas is a time to remember how much they have received through the sacrifice of others. It’s their Christmas tradition. And I might add, it’s their favorite one.