Several local pastors share a glimpse into their homes at Christmas telling how they celebrate family and bring significance to the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ.
Fidel Gomez, Associate Pastor, Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale
About 3 weeks before Christmas all of us, as a family, jump into the back of a pickup truck and go to Home Depot to buy our Christmas tree. We’ve been doing this as far back as I can remember. All of us put on the traditional red Christmas stocking cap and sing Christmas carols as we drive to Home Depot.
We all playfully disagree on what tree to buy. After about an hour of looking, shaking and considering, we all finally agree on the family tree. Afterwards we jump back into the truck along with chosen tree and head back home to decorate it together, as a family. The decoration time is filled with a cup of eggnog, whipped cream, of course, and Christmas carols playing on the CD in the background.
The significance of this for us is — family unity. This is a time to thank the Lord for the birth of His Son because, if it had not been for Jesus being born, chances are, we would not be together decorating the tree mixed with memories and laughter. God, the Gomez family cannot thank you enough for giving us Your Son.
Pictured: Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale Associate Pastor Fidel Gomez and his wife, Theresa, with their family. From left to right: Andrea, daughter; Tiana, granddaughter; Ashley, daughter-in-law; Ava Rose, granddaughter; Matthew, son, Pastor Fidel; Selah, granddaughter; Theresa; Tiffany, daughter-in-law; Briana, granddaughter; Gabriel, son; and Jocelyn, granddaughter.
Dr. Marcus D. Davidson, Senior Pastor, New Mount Olive Baptist Church
Family traditions are wonderful and are very memorable for families. Our family moved to South Florida almost five years ago, and we have had to develop new traditions. We have made a conscious effort to take Christmas Day as a time for the three of us to spend together as a family. Traditionally, families join with other family members for a larger gathering with food, fun and fellowship. However, since we are with so many people we know so often, our family has adopted the tradition of spending our time with just the three of us at Disney World.
Our entire family has an affinity for Disney World. So we have made it our tradition to drive up to Disney and enjoy a nice road trip for the holidays. We spend the first night at Downtown Disney at the movie theater. On the following day, we go to the parks and enjoy the parades and rides as a family. Those are a few of our traditions that we have adopted as a family.
Pictured: Senior Pastor of New Mount Olive Baptist Church Dr. Marcus D. Davidson, Yvokia, his wife, and their daughter, Layla.
Larry Thompson, Senior Pastor, First Fort Lauderdale
One of our favorite Christmases started with what I thought was a terrible idea.
First, you should understand that my idea of Christmas morning is a big tree with stacks and stacks of presents for everyone in the house.
When my daughters were growing up, my great delight was the joy I’d see in their faces when they first woke up and saw the gifts. We’d always read the story of the birth of Jesus first (even at a young age, they knew what was most important), and then they would tear into the tree.
But a few years ago, with both daughters grown and married and one grandson already on the scene, my older daughter Taylor had a suggestion: a “handcrafted Christmas.” What? Like the do-it-yourself channel?
I protested, but the girls and my wife Cynthia won out. (I’m pretty sure the grandson was on my side.)
What I thought was going to be a Christmas disaster turned into one of our most memorable ever. Taylor made jewelry for her mom. I wrote a poem and used my miles to send my daughter and son-in-law to the California redwoods to revisit a childhood memory I had made with my own grandfather. Jennifer made me coasters using the picture of each member of our family to spell out “FAMILY.” And even our grandson Strong got into the action by drawing pictures for each member of our family sharing in his own unique way as a four year old what Christmas meant to him.
For one Christmas, I put the credit cards away and pulled out the creativity in a way I’ve never done before. And as I looked at that tree in the final hours of Christmas, I couldn’t help but think of the hands that made the Greatest Gift of All, and how that one Christmas truly changed everything.
Pictured from back to front: First Fort Lauderdale Senior Pastor Larry Thompson and his wife, Cynthia; Daughter Jennifer, her husband Mason; Grandsons Strong(with mom)and Tru(with dad); Daughter Taylor and her husband Martin.
Bill Mitchell, Senior Pastor, Boca Raton Community Church
When the children were younger, we would gather around the Advent wreath each night and they would take turns lighting the candles while all the other lights in the room were turned off. There in our cozy family room Elizabeth would read from our favorite advent storybook with all the children gathered close. It still is one of our happiest memories.
Our Christmas Eve service is an especially meaningful time…never too long and usually early to facilitate family traditions afterward. We would greet our church family after the service and then go home to be together with our extended family. Each year we would think through the new friends God had brought into our lives, particularly those who had no family in town. We had the joy of inviting one couple or family each year to celebrate Christmas Eve with us in our home. Grandfather Bill would read the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke and the youngest children would dress up in blankets and bathrobes and reenact the drama of Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus. If extra young ones came, they would supplement the drama as shepherds, angels and wise men. At the end of it all, after music and singing, and before we exchanged gifts, we would dim all the lights and make a production of marching out a cake adorned with candles and sing that special version of “Happy Birthday Jesus.” The youngest child would be allowed to blow out the candles.
As a family we enjoy repeating special traditions in December…watching our favorite Christmas movies together, sending out a Christmas card with our entire family pictured on the front, going to Atlantic Avenue and walking through the enormous Christmas tree, and making Gingerbread Houses with all the cousins and dozens of bags of candy.
One of our newest and most favorite traditions has become shopping for our special friends and family using our “Starfish Treasure” catalog. Rather than buying gifts that are not really necessary, we choose instead to purchase animals for families in Haiti, soccer balls for youth ministries in Moldova, or sewing machines for women’s ministries in Zambia. We give our friends a card letting them know we have honored them by purchasing this meaningful gift as a true blessing for those in need.
On Christmas morning we pray as a family first around the tree, the children divide up the gifts, and we take turns watching each other open the gifts. We usually celebrate with a special breakfast of bacon, sausages, oven egg casserole and all the trimmings.
Pictured: Pastor Bill Mitchell and his wife, Elizabeth, with their family. From left to right: Greg,son; Anna, daughter; Jacqui, daughter; Elizabeth; Pastor Bill; Gracie, granddaughter; Liam, grandson; Lindsay, daughter in law; Bill, son.