Burgers at the Beltline (and Other Christmas Traditions)

Every one of our family’s holiday traditions has one thing in common – namely, that there was a Christmas BEFORE that tradition began at which time we were content and happy about those traditions we already had. Every tradition has a beginning, and many times that new tradition replaces a more established one that we would have really preferred not to have given up.

Established traditions are embraced. New events and activities that surround the holidays are never seen as traditions the very first time they’re done, but many of these “first time” holiday activities become the traditions that we celebrate and embrace five, ten and twenty years down the road.

One of our family’s traditions – begun in the year 2000 – involves having all five of us attend the 4:30 Christmas Eve service together at Blackhawk and then stopping for a quick sandwich before driving to my folks’ house in Milwaukee. For each of the past eight years we’ve grabbed that sandwich at the Burger King on Park Street right off the Beltline.

burger1Whether traveling from our home in LaCrosse, then Rhinelander, then DeKalb, Illinois, we always found our way to Madison on our way to Milwaukee. Amazingly, the stop at Burger King became one of the most endearing part of our Christmas Eve tradition. I imagine it was because the five of us were eating a meal together rather than because of the quality of the food (although it ain’t bad!). We took a few minutes to be together, joke around, and watch frenetic employees and customers desperately trying to get somewhere else.

pfeifer-familyThat tradition – of attending the service at Blackhawk and stopping at Burger King – is over. Our son who moved to Madison in 2000 is now working outside of Washington D.C. and he’ll be flying in to O’Hare Wednesday afternoon. His younger brother is studying in Plymouth, UK this year and won’t be coming home at all over the holidays. Mt wife and I are preparing to move to Twin Falls, Idaho. And my father, who celebrated 88 Christmases and presided over our family gatherings for most of them, will not be with us. He passed away the day before Thanksgiving.

And yet, Christmas will come. The central event of celebrating the birth of Jesus transcends the traditions we’ve built around it, and we will – if we take the time to do it – be humbled and grateful for God’s incredible plan that placed a human baby in our midst who was also God – and who would grow up and be our Savior.

Although I’m not quite certain what we’ll do this week, I imagine that at least one of these things will become part of a new holiday tradition. I don’t know which one – that’s the way things are with traditions – I likely won’t know for years.

I’m thankful for the traditions our family has had and the ones yet to be discovered, but even more thankful for Jesus Christ, and plan to celebrate accordingly this Christmas Season.

 Written by John Pfeifer

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1 Response to “Burgers at the Beltline (and Other Christmas Traditions)”


  1. 1 Nancy December 24, 2008 at 10:32 pm

    We miss Tim already too!
    God bless your great family!


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