The Soapbox: My Favorite Christmas Traditions

Brandi Chambless
Brandi Chambless

Can you believe Christmas is here again?  I….can….not.  Taking down my goodies from the attic, I am reminded of the rich heritage of Christmas traditions I celebrate in ways both great and small. I wanted to take the time to wish you a Merry Christmas and share my favorite traditions of all! While I know they are just simple habits and mementos, my home starts to feel a little different when I celebrate them!

 I would have to say my best tradition of all is making a huge pot of my Don’t Tell Mama Red Beans & Rice. This has been my family’s special Christmas Eve tradition since Christmas of 1999. It began in Fort Worth, Texas, as my husband Bob was entering his last year of graduate school. We were two church musicians and, yes, two starving artists.

He had just thrown the last downbeat of the Christmas music we had been rehearsing since July of that year, spent our last dime on Christmas gifts and family travel, and given our final “Merry Christmas” at church on Christmas Eve as families turned inward for the evening.

We had given all of our time, money, and music, only to return to our duplex to find a beautiful Christmas tree with no gifts and an empty cupboard—that is, with the exception of a small package of red beans. Missing our loved ones, we decided to make the best of it and cook a huge pot of Louisiana style red beans and rice. It was the best pot of beans or ANYTHING we had ever had before!! Believe, you, me…there were raw onions and a cornbread involved. I guess beans truly must be a magical fruit, because we began to sense the spirit of Christmas that feels like home no matter the distance. Jesus had really made Himself known in our very humble circumstances.

What’s in a name? I just had to call this dish Don’t Tell Mama, since I garnished it with lime, cilantro, and diced radishes—flavors that will never be found on my Mama’s Cajun table. We still enjoy it not only on Christmas Eve, but year round. It is very easy to make and will be right on point as long as you use my secret ingredient: cloves.

My next favorite tradition is my grass wreath. It is really not that pretty at all, but it is over 20 years old. Every year I take the best large ribbon from all the presents, and wrap it around the wreath. But not before writing all the desires of my heart, thanksgiving, and prayer requests for the upcoming year on the inside of the ribbon. One day when I am very old, I am going to unwrap that wreath to see just how God has answered all of those prayers of a lifetime. How awesome it will be to see His promises made known!

I love a good cookie exchange like the next girl, but one of the all time best Christmas traditions is adding to my collection of ornaments. I have over 40 years of ornaments that have been hand sewn by my mother when I was a child all the way to little palm prints of my own son. Those are some of my most cherished possessions. While a fancy polished tree with coordinated colored schemes from Pinterest is very beautiful, my old ornaments are the best! They represent the auld lang syne and the people and seasons I will never forget.

There are millions of special Christmas traditions that have either just happened and then others that were created on purpose. It’s pretty easy to feel that “Christmas” wouldn’t be “Christmas” without some of these old traditions, but ever so important to remember that Jesus can make a way into the coldest of hearts no matter the magnitude of the fireworks, nor the depravity of the darkness. Won’t you let him in?

Read Brandi’s column each month in The Cross Timbers Gazette newspaper.

Brandi Chambless
Brandi Chambless
Read Brandi's column each month in The Cross Timbers Gazette newspaper.

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