Seven weeks and twice as many apple pies later, life has remained surprising normal—albeit a little sweeter—since my mother and father arrived from across the country to make their final home with my husband and me. The Great Recession of 2007-2009 and the sluggish home sales that accompanied it hit home for us through the agonizingly long time it took to sell my parents' previous home. But the sale occurred, finally, just in time to get them here for the holidays.

For much of our marriage, my husband and I have lived far from any family, and, without children, our holiday celebrations have grown increasingly spare over the years. Putting up a tree, decorating, and holiday cooking seem like an awful lot of trouble for the two of us, especially when grading final papers and exams always takes me up to the day or two before Christmas. Lacking many traditions of our own, I was excited about having my parents here for the holidays, the first of what I expect will be many more. I wondered what new traditions we might begin in this new chapter of life.

The purchase of a Thanksgiving turkey provided the perfect opportunity to begin a new tradition. Like many others, particularly (and fittingly) Christians, I have recently undergone a personal conviction about factory farming. So on a gorgeous fall morning, we drove an hour south to pick up a free-range turkey that had been raised humanely and processed at a local farm. The chance to support a Christian family in their agricultural efforts (and to witness all eight of their children taking part in that wholesome work) blessed us, too.

In the absence of most of the trappings of Christmas, spending Christmas Eve with our church family has become the center of my husband's ...

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