Christmas Adam

In my family we traditionally refer to the day before Christmas Eve as Christmas Adam. Similarly, Boxing day is Christmas Cain (or sometimes Christmas Candy Cane) and the day after is Christmas Abel, and so on.

For years we’ve celebrated Christmas Adam with a story party, a gathering of friends and neighbors who are invited to bring a story or a poem to read aloud. I usually write a new story, and someone brings a guitar, and everyone donates a plate of goodies, and we read and sing and chew and chat the evening away, and no finer entertainment can be found anywhere.


For a long time I presumed I had invented this quaint custom of calling December 23 Christmas Adam. And I had. But it turns out that at least one other person had invented it too. I found this out in 2001 when I published a story called “Yabbakadoodles” in “Christianity Today.” (If you’re curious, you can read this story in the CT archives, or in my latest book, Twenty-One Candles: Stories for Christmas.) The story mentioned my Christmas Adam custom, and a while later I received a letter from Susan Coleman of Portland, who wrote:

Imagine my utter amazement and delight when I read your recent story in CT and got to paragraph 5. There the words “Christmas Adam” jumped right off the page. For years my sister and I have called December 23 Christmas Adam. It all began one year when she said to me, “Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, so today must be Christmas Adam, and the next day we raise Cain!” All of this said with a twinkle in the eye.

We live far apart now, but the joke continues and we usually manage to call each other on Christmas Adam to chat. I’ll be sending her a copy of your article this week—and maybe we’ll greet each other with “Yabbakadoodles!” She’ll be very excited to know that Christmas Adam will now be a nationally known phrase. 

Well, I don’t know about “nationally known.” Perhaps not. But I would be curious to know if there are any other Christmas Adamites out there. Or should I say Christmas Adamants—that is, people adamant about observing this important day. If so, please let me know!

Susan Coleman’s letter did not end there. It continued in the most beautiful fashion, and the rest of it is so lovely that I just have to quote it. In fact, the rest of Susan’s letter is the main point of this article. Here it is:

Your story brought great joy to my heart. I read it aloud to my husband and we both laughed a lot. Thank you for writing so honestly. 

It reminded me of an experience I had a few years ago. One of the children in my Sunday School class gave me a Christmas gift. I opened it to find a pretty candle he’d made with his mom and a packet of hot cocoa mix. Puzzling over the connection, I found a little slip of paper that read, “For a quiet moment by candlelight.” I remember thinking, “That’s nice—but I have three small kids and a husband. Probably won’t happen.” 

However, several mornings later I woke up before anyone else, stumbled into the living room and saw the lights on the Christmas tree. It was so beautiful I decided to have my quiet moment by candlelight. While sipping my hot cocoa and basking in the glow of my candle and lights of the tree, I read Luke 2 and reflected on His love for me. It was a wonderful time. 

I vowed from that year on I would look for a special moment from God every Christmas season. He’s been faithful to honor that over the years. One of my favorites was the time it snowed here in Portland, which doesn’t happen too often. I decided to take a walk and enjoy the beauty of it all. 

As I strolled down the front steps, I heard an upstairs window open and my middle-school-age son call out, “Wanna’ hear me play something on my sax, Mom?” I honestly didn’t, but said sure anyway, expecting a raucous version of “Jingle Bells.” But as I stood in the softly falling snow, the melody of “Silent Night” drifted down from the second floor, and moved me to tears. 

Thanks for letting me share and remind myself once again to look for those divine moments amidst the rush of Christmas. I can’t wait to see what He’ll do this year!


MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!  My book-in-progress, Jesus: His Story In Stone, will resume on January 6.

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