Are traditions a threat of punishment?

Published 7:20 am Sunday, December 15, 2019

Karen Stevens

In the United States, it has been calculated that a quarter of all personal spending takes place during the Christmas/holiday shopping season. 

In 2018, U.S. households spent an average of $1,536 during the Christmas holiday period.  I guess, depending on your finances that might not seem like a lot, or maybe it does.  

The average person’s electricity bill does not increase that much during Christmas with LED lights, but the people in my neighborhood – well their yards look like the Las Vegas strip.  

Did you know that Thomas Edison created the very first strand of electric lights?  During the Christmas season of 1880, these strands were strung around the outside of his Menlo Park Laboratory.  

Have you ever thought about what the symbol of lights represents, and why we splash them all over our yards, and on our Christmas trees?  Well, it is supposed to be the symbol of light, for hope and good in the world.  

For Christians, it serves to remind us to provide light to others – God’s light.  

In John 8:12 Jesus applies the title to himself while debating with the Jews and states: “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”  And in Matthew 5:15 “Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.”  

At Christmas, we put it out for all the neighbors to see.  The only problem with this is they have the Grinch, Santa, teddy bears, etc. and not something that would let our light shine for Christ.  I do have some neighbors that have nativity scenes and “wise men still seek Him”, etc.  

My husband and I always put a nativity scene out ever year as our focal point, but we have soldiers, snowmen, etc. as well.  

My Christmas tree has a fish theme, which I fudge and say it represents “Jesus the fisherman”.  Hey, I can use that as a witness tool!  

I had Bunco at my house and had a “Happy Birthday Jesus” cake.  I think anything we do to point or shine the light on Christ, is always a good thing. 

 Jesus is not just good for the economy but for our outlook and attitude this time of year.  I read a piece about psychology and Christmas. They were talking about a lot of things, but the one part I focused on was traditions.  

The question was asked, “Why do we continue our traditions?”  Well, researchers attribute them to avoiding the threat of punishment.  People don’t want to stop traditions because they are unsure of what the consequence may be.  They all want to remain consistent in their behavior, whether it’s habits, attitudes, values or beliefs.   

As soon as December rolls around, cities and towns are covered in those familiar sights and scents of your childhood.  These symbols often lead to feelings of nostalgia, which according to research, makes people more optimistic about the future.  Optimism is so great for our attitude.  

So, even if Christianity is not your religion, Jesus’s birthday is good for the country.  

Keep spreading the Good News.  It will make people happy.  

Hallmark understands the theory that holiday stories generally represent the values of this time of year.  They commonly feature themes of kindness, charity, gratitude, love and hope.  

When viewers watch holiday movies, they are subconsciously driven to reenact those same values in their lives.  This happens through a process called transportation.  

So, men when your wives want to watch Hallmark, it’s a good thing.  

So, Merry Christmas to all and remember – Jesus is the reason for the season!


Karen Y. Stevens is the founder of Orange County Christian Writers Guild