Presbyterian Back Story

by Heather Durenberger, Tastemaker in Residence

My Favorite Holiday Tradition


One of my most cherished childhood memories was a family Christmas tradition. My dad was a Presbyterian minister. For Christmas Eve Candlelight service, my brothers and I would get into our pajamas, head to the church with our cozy sleeping bags and pillows, and settle into my dad’s office in the church. We were supposed to stay and sleep in dad’s office while dad and mom attended service, but for heaven’s sake it was Christmas Eve, who could sleep at a time like this? Instead, we snuck out of dad’s office and down the hall to catch a peek from behind the curtains. From the stage in the back of the church, we could see the sanctuary aglow with candlelight and the rafters filled with beautiful Christmas carolers. To this day, every time I encounter candlelight, my heart fills with the memories from the Christmas Eve Candlelight services.

As we got older, the tradition evolved into sharing a glass of sparkling juice after the service. As we came of age, we then shared a glass of champagne with dear friends. For our busy family, taking time after the service to celebrate each other and the holiday is really special. My parents could have told us that it was late and we needed to go to bed, but instead they helped us create a tradition and life long memories.  

While many of those dear church members have passed on, the memories and connections are still fresh in my mind. I am so thankful for my parents who taught us to celebrate the good times in a way that included family, friends and faith.