A Book of Devotional Stories
This book was originally published as “In My Father’s Footsteps Christmas Edition.” Christmas Moments is volume two in a growing collection of published devotions penned by Ed Blonski from True Men Ministries. Christmas Moments is a collection based on stories from Ed’s life and ministry. It also includes the stories of ten of the most beloved Christmas Carols of all time. The Christmas carol stories can also be heard as a series of podcasts at truemen.podbean.com and feature the music of Richard Souther.
I began writing devotions – using stories – in 1998 (or so) – and started compiling them in paperback book and e-reader form in 2016.
To date there are five volumes in this book series. Below is one of my favorites from volume 2.
Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you. Deuteronomy 32:7
When I remember Christmases of the past – when I was a little kid – I remember driving with my mom and dad and brother to the Southside of Chicago to visit my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. It was about a two hour drive – a virtual eternity for an 8-year-old – and we left early in the morning and got back late at night. It was always cold and most of the time there was snow on the ground. And I can remember the smell of my grandparent’s house on Houston Avenue. I don’t know what the smell was – it was neither good nor bad – it was just the “smell” of my grandparent’s house at Christmas time.
Ever since then, I’ve had it in my mind that it really isn’t Christmas unless I go back to Chicago each December. Twenty years ago, that sounded like a good idea to my wife. So, after our first son was born, we began the “Chicago Family Christmas.” Every December we go “home” for Christmas.
Making Our Own Traditions
In 2006 we traveled further than we ever imagined we would to go back to Chicago. We traveled from beautiful, sunny – and warm – Southern California to go to Chicago (where it was the coldest first-weekend-in-December on record in Chicago).
Starting out before dawn, we drove to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and then boarded our flight to Midway Airport in Chicago. We prayed that we would be able to make this flight. The day before, the airports in Chicago were essentially closed because of an early winter snowstorm. But at the same time, we were looking forward with great joy to having Chicago blanketed in beautiful snow for our 11th Annual Chicago Family Christmas.
The flight was long but uneventful. Because the flight was far from full, each son was able to have a window seat. They were able to see the Grand Canyon from 40,000 feet, which is quite impressive. The landing at Midway was fast and hard (short runways there). I didn’t much like that, but it turned out ok.
We then hopped the “Orange Line” train from Midway to State Street where it was a cold but short walk from the train station to the hotel. We stayed at the historic Congress Hotel on South Michigan Ave. Historic, because it was built to accommodate visitors to the 1893 Columbian World Exposition in Chicago.
After a full day of traveling, we had a great dinner at the Exchequer English Restaurant and Pub on South Wabash Avenue. With full bellies and warm hearts, we walked back to the hotel and after our evening devotions the boys snuggled into their beds, anticipating a wonderfully exciting next day in downtown Chicago.
Why Do It?
Why do I drag my family to Chicago each December? The answer is because tradition is very important to me. Not for “tradition’s sake” but as opportunities to remember where I come from. Which, in turn gives me direction to where I am going. All three of my sons will remember – when they are adult men – that each Christmas they spent a few days in the city that I call my “home town.” They know that their grandparents and great-grandparents (and great-great-grandparents) all lived in Chicago. It is a part of their history. This tradition and all the little “traditions” that go with it will hopefully help them to remember their past and help them understand, a little better, their father.
It also helps me to teach them a little about their faith in Jesus Christ. Each one of my sons has faith in Christ. It is a personal faith. But it is not solely a personal faith. It is also a faith that is shared by millions today and countless millions throughout generations past. Just as many people claim Chicago as their “home town” – and having roots of their own family in Chicago connects my sons to those many people – so the many people who have faith in Christ – past and present – also connect to my three sons and to my wife and me.
Revisiting the places of my youth helps me to revisit the times of my youth. Sharing that with my wife and sons makes a closer connection to their lives as well.
In short, it makes us a stronger family, a closer family, a more intimate family.