ugly_Christmas_sweaterFinally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.  ~Philipians 4:8-9 NIV

This year my adult children decided to add a new tradition to our family Christmas gathering: the wearing of an ugly Christmas sweater. Not just any ugly Christmas sweater, an embellished ugly Christmas sweater. Needless to say, I can’t post some of the ideas that floated by.

While I’m all for family traditions, I was a bit resistant to this new idea at first. After all, in the past it’s been us, not the kids, who have set the standards for family Christmas traditions. Yet the kids reminded me that it’s time for them to start adding their traditions to the mix.

Watching my children and grandchildren grow up and take over holiday traditions is bittersweet. It means learning how to let go of what was mine and allowing my grown up kids make it theirs, even if the tradition isn’t exactly the same. It means allowing them to make their own memories–memories that will, one day, be passed down to their children and children’s children. It means pondering the past in order to make room for the future.

Sometimes I wonder how God does it. Ponder the past to make room for the future, that is. He weaves a tapestry so intricate that every detail is planned out from beginning to end, leaving enough room to stay the same yet grow. Even during those times in our life when we feel we’ve worn an ugly Christmas sweater for more years than we’d like to admit, God, in His grace and goodness, is somehow able to turn that “ugly” sweater into something beautiful.

As you contemplate Christmas this year, as you reflect on traditions past and dream about traditions to come, remember no matter how things change, no matter if one year you find yourself wearing an ugly Christmas sweater, God is still there and has a wonderful plan for your life. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He will not let go of you. For He is a God of promise and hope.

LORD, help me let go as I pass the baton of tradition onto my children. Let me find joy in watching them make it theirs rather than resting in the sadness of knowing it’s no longer “mine.” Help me trust that You have tomorrow all taken care of and that Your plan is perfect and flawless. Teach me, O LORD, how to rest in today while pondering the beauty of yesterday and anticipating the hope of tomorrow. Your plans never fail, LORD. For 6,000 years ago when the world failed You, when the tradition You desired for man was stripped away by sin, even then You had a plan–a plan for redemption to come along 4,000 years later. A plan to start a new tradition while not forsaking the old. A plan that started with God coming to earth in the form of a baby…


About J. N. Hups

I am the author of a 9-part young adult speculative fiction book series called THE CHRONICLES OF SPECTOR. The first book is due to release February 29, 2016, with Mt. Cydesh Publishing Co. Between 2006 - 2014, I served as president, vice president, and secretary of ACFW North Denver, a local chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and in 2008 was part of a team that implemented social networking and web presence for the ACFW chapters in Colorado. A native Coloradoan, I live in Westminster with my husband of 36 years. I have four grown children, and three "perfect" grandchildren with another on the way.
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