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Published December 17, 2012, 10:36 AM

Christmas and community

There are Christmas traditions we can count on every year. Sure, we wonder if we need to do some of the same things year after year after year, but I guess that’s the only way something becomes a tradition.

By: Ryan Taylor, Agweek

TOWNER, N.D. — There are Christmas traditions we can count on every year. Sure, we wonder if we need to do some of the same things year after year after year, but I guess that’s the only way something becomes a tradition.

With all the change in this world, there are some things we don’t want to change. We need some traditions. We have them for a reason.

We went to our sons’ elementary school music program recently. It’s the traditional school Christmas concert with shiny-faced little lads and lasses all cleaned up and dressed up, standing on the risers and doing their level best not to embarrass their parents or their music teacher.

I’ve been to several of these as a youngster, up front doing the performing. I’ve been to four of these as a father, and now with a third grader and a kindergartner in school, my wife and I get two shots of parental pride at the concert.

The concerts are a way to bring parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, neighbors and others together at a time of year when we ought to think more about togetherness in our celebration of Christmas.

Sure, it’d be easy to stay home. It’s not always easy to get kids to wear their “nice clothes” and for us to figure out how to tie a half Windsor in a boys tie and get it cinched up under a six-year-old’s collar. But we need to do some things in life that aren’t easy. And as we snap a few photos, visit with friends and neighbors we hadn’t seen for a while, make eye contact and catch the small, furtive waves of two little men who want to make sure Mom and Dad can see them, well, we’re glad we put forth the effort to keep the tradition.

And we’ll do much the same in our church with the Sunday school Christmas program. The Sunday school teachers asked me to narrate the story of the Christmas birth from the book of Luke, and I’ll gladly do whatever is needed to make sure our church community keeps that tradition while our cherubic children sweetly sing “Silent Night,” and belt out “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” just like generations before.

We also recently celebrated our annual “Santa Day” in our little town of Towner, N.D., with a population of 533 festive holiday souls. Sleigh rides, Santa pictures, cookie decorating, a free children’s movie and, of course, a book signing with a local cowboy columnist and author. Except for that last activity, it’s one of those community Christmas events that takes some effort by the local businesses, but brings the community together.

Along with community, we try to bring family together at Christmas. This year, we’re hosting my wife’s family here on the Taylor homestead. At last count, we’re expecting 22 people to inhabit the house for a couple of days. It should be festive. We’re ready to blow up the air mattresses and we may encourage some winter camping outside to get everyone accommodated. We may have to harvest a beef cow, too.

But, it is all worth the effort. Sometimes we let our appreciation for family and community slide a little, but when we do the work it takes to cultivate those relationships — in schools, in churches, on Main Streets and around crowded dinner tables — we find each other again, just in time for Christmas.

Merry Christmas, faithful readers.

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