As Christmas draws closer, sometimes gift giving, Holiday parties, and festive decorations can be the only thing that we focus on. But are all of those things really what Christmas is about? Amy Clipston, author of the Amish Christmas novella, Naomi’s Gift, writes about how Amish Christmas traditions inspired her to write a story that highlights the true meaning of Christmas.
My Christmas novella Naomi’s Gift features twenty-four-year-old Naomi King, who has been burned twice by love and has all but given up on marriage and children. As Christmas approaches-a time of family, faith, and hope for many others-Naomi is more certain than ever her life will be spent as an old maid, helping with the family’s quilting business and taking care of her eight siblings. Then she meets Caleb, a young widower with a 7-year-old daughter, and her world is once again turned upside-down.
During my research Naomi’s Gift, I asked my Amish friend how she and her family celebrate Christmas. In the Amish tradition, they don’t decorate a tree or tell their children that Santa Claus brings gifts. When decorating their homes, the Amish may display a poinsettia or candles, but you won’t find any lights or wreaths.
My Amish friend told me about First Christmas and Second Christmas. In her family, they received their gifts on Christmas morning, which is First Christmas. She sets up the table especially for the kids, called the Christmas table, and she puts her children’s names by each place setting and places their gifts on the plate. Children may receive a piece of fruit or homemade cookies and candies. They may also find small toys, such as a new doll, a toy truck, farm animals, or ice skates. They may also receive clothes that they need or a new robe. Older girls sometimes get a piece of crystal or a dish, adding to their collection every year. The gifts are wrapped in newspaper or Christmas bag.
Adult gifts may include a homemade scarf, inspirational books, homemade blanket or towel, or a woven rug.
My Amish friend visits extended family on Second Christmas, which is the twenty-sixth, and the family members share a huge meal. The children have fun playing with their cousins. Grandparents give each child a small gift, like candy.
Each Amish family has its own traditions. Since the families are so large, they have to plan when to get together and some have their Christmas dinners as early as Thanksgiving.
For the Amish, the holiday is about family and retelling the Christmas story, which they share on Christmas Eve.
In Naomi’s Gift, readers will get a glimpse of the Amish Christmas traditions, which are very different from our “English” traditions and the expense of lavish gifts.
Amy Clipston holds a degree in communication from Virginia Wesleyan College and works full-time for the City of Charlotte, NC. Amy lives in North Carolina with her husband, and two sons and four spoiled rotten cats.
You can purchase her novella, Naomi’s Gift here.