Christmas Traditions 

When I was in seventh grade I joined Mount Olivet with my mother and brother. As a part of Cathedral Choir during my freshman year I experienced the annual Mount Olivet Christmas Concert for the first time. What a thrill it was, not just being with friends, but being able to sing the traditional songs of faith that so many in our congregation have come to hear for years. I always look forward to being a part of that concert and seeing which alumni come back for this tradition. Next year, that will be me. Christmas has always been about being around family not just my own, but my church family. Another tradition enjoy involves shopping for families in our greater Minneapolis community who can’t afford presents for their families. With that tradition I get the chance to experience the “joy in giving.” Since I was young, one of my favorite traditions at home has been receiving a wooden ornament made by my grandfather. I was close with my grandfather and even though he passed away four years ago, the tradition has continued to honor his memory. Due to this tradition, church and my faith, I feel his spirit still with me, especially around Christmas time. That is why my favorite holiday is Christmas. – Julia Stathopoulos

My favorite Christmas tradition at Mount Olivet is the Christmas Concert. I have been in choir since I was a little Cherub with the big red bow tie. The Christmas Concert is so special because it combines all of the choirs. When we all sing “Peace, Peace” at the end it brings the choirs and congregation together as one. I love when the lights go off and everyone is in the Christmas spirit and we are not thinking about anything else. My favorite Christmas tradition outside of Mount Olivet is traveling to Fargo, North Dakota, to be with family. On Christmas Eve, we gather in the living room around my Grandpa Fercho, who is 92, as he reads the Book of Luke, Chapter 2, from a well-worn Bible that belonged to my Great Grandfather. I really enjoy this tradition because it encompasses my love for my family and my faith. This tradition influences my faith because recently my grandpa asked if I would take his spot when he is no longer there to read from the Bible on Christmas Eve. Because of my faith, I love to do as much as I can that revolves around my church and family. One thing’s for sure, no Christmas is complete without Grandma June’s cranberry Yifta. – Maxwell Morton

My favorite Mount Olivet Christmas tradition is definitely the annual Christmas Concert. I’m not used to singing with such a large group of people and at the Christmas Concert there are so many of us. I get the chills every time the lights go out at the end of the concert and we sing “Peace, Peace” along with “Silent Night.” It is really humbling to see my peers and the whole community joining together to praise the Lord at the place we love most. Before joining Mount Olivet, I had never heard of such a large youth choir. It is unbelievable how many teenagers put in time every week to grow in their faith and give back to their church. The love that spreads around Mount Olivet is unlike any other place I’ve experienced and it’s astonishing. I see God through every single person at Mount Olivet and it strengthens my faith every time I go to church. I love singing at the Christmas Concert with all of the people that share a love for their faith and Mount Olivet. It fills me up and humbles me that I am able to be part of such an amazing community. – Anna Lucas

What Christmas Means to Me

Christmas time means you are enjoying the snow, looking at Christmas lights, and doing your best to stay warm. Christmas is the time of year when you also take time to slow down and enjoy the things around you. During the days before Christmas, I find myself spending more time with my family, just doing things like watching TV and playing board games. It is important to take a break every once in a while to let yourself recover from the crazy schedules we all have. Because Christmas is the celebration of Jesus’ birth, I think it’s the perfect opportunity to spend time with yourself, God, and loved ones. Christmas is an important time of year because everyone is so cheerful and friendly. This is important because even the smallest amount of kindness can seriously affect the people around you. Even having a small section of the year when everyone is happy and positive can make a big difference. Being able to witness this kindness and generosity is why Christmas time is so special to me. For me, Christmas is a time when people slow down and enjoy their day. It makes people more cheerful, making it a wonderful time of year. – Jack Glieden

From the excitement of the first snowfall to the hours spent conversing by the fireplace, Christmas has always been a treasured time of year for my family and me. As I reflect back on my favorite Christmas memories, a number stick out. Whether it be being five years old and utterly convinced that I saw Santa’s sleigh or being overcome with euphoria while singing “Amazing Grace,” each memory weighs of deep value to me. However, beyond the sheer excitement that presents and cookies bring, lays a deeper meaning. My dad once told me a saying that has resonated with me ever since: “Christmas is about presence, not presents.” Though simple, I feel that this saying perfectly encapsulates the true meaning of Christmas. When we celebrate Christmas we are celebrating an incredible act of love; God sending his only son to save us from all our sins. We live in a world brimming with loss and anguish, but can rest assured that, through God, all our wounds will be healed. By serving others, we are being God’s hands and feet and living out our calling to love one another unconditionally. Although it is hard to not get caught up in the materialistic affairs of Christmas, this Christmas and every Christmas I challenge myself and others to be present; present with yourself, present with others, and present with God. – Elisabeth Thompson