When I was growing up in New Orleans, my family had a tradition of going to the late Christmas Eve service at church and then going to eat at one of our favorite places called Cannon’s. Each year, my sisters ate the Cajun Popcorn Shrimp Salad and I would get the Chicken Royale with fries. It was like clockwork. And it was wonderful.

I have a thing for food by the way. I remember everything I ever ate and most of my favorite memories are about food.

One year, the church service ran late and when we got to Cannon’s, they were closing. It was earth shattering. I don’t know how the rest of the family was feeling, but I was totally bummed. How would Christmas Eve be without my Chicken Royale with fries?

So we went to the only place we could find nearby that was open; a Chinese restaurant called the Empress of China. They were open late and had an open table for us. I ordered the Sesame Chicken and it was amazing! We ended up having a delicious dinner and we decided that from now on, we would eat at the Empress of China after Christmas Eve.

One of the reasons I love Christmas time so much is how traditions are made. Some of us have very normal traditions, others not so much. But these traditions often are a means of celebration that bring us together.

I am amazed each year at three of the traditions that Floris uses as a means to serve the community: Advent Giving, Alternative Giving, and the Christmas Eve Offering. These were all started by people seeking to bless others in light of Christ’s birth. I think these traditions give us an opportunity to be generous to others as a means of celebration.

Other traditions are starting too. I’d hasten to say that Camp Hutchison is a part of who we are now. And what is so wonderful is our openness to the potential of new programs like the Floris Guest House. The outpouring of support for this new program has been amazing and maybe one day we can say that it is part of our tradition too.

As I get older, I start thinking about what traditions matter to me and what traditions I want to have for the rest of my life. These programs at Floris are undoubtedly shaping my traditions as my wife and I seek to be more generous and loving people. And any tradition that makes us more loving, just, generous, and/or compassionate is a wonderful thing.

And if you want to know, we’ll probably eat at PF Chang’s this Christmas Eve.

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