By Del Duduit
Every family has its Christmas traditions. Some are serious, and some are silly – but they are traditions, and they become special over time.
My family is no exception. We like to watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation each year a day or two before Dec. 25. As I get older, that movie is beginning to become more of a reality to me and remains, in my opinion, the funniest movie ever made. We also like to the watch Ron Howard’s rendition of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas. And last year, Angie and I finally stumbled on to A Christmas Story – and we will watch it again this Christmas Day (if we can find it on TV that is — joke.) We like It’s a Wonderful Life, but we have seen it 25 times and that’s enough.
Just as a sidebar, and it has nothing to do with the blog, the best Christmas movie of all time has to be Die Hard, with Bruce Willis. It is a surefire way to get in the Jingle Bell spirit.
Now back to Christmas traditions.
Another one we have at our home is the daily moving of a little Christmas mouse on a December calendar that counts down to THE big day. Eli used to move the mouse, but Angie has taken over since he has gone to college. We also like to go Christmas caroling with our church choir, and we usually pick tags from a giving tree to buy some presents for a child or two who we don’t know.
About six years ago, we started having my side of the family over to our home to celebrate Christmas. We usually have the entire gang of 30-35 people over, and it’s fun. One tradition we do now is to have the grandchildren read the Christmas story from the second chapter of Luke. Once done, we sing a few Christmas songs and then let the little ones rip into their gifts and destroy my home. It’s fun.
But we now have a new tradition. We will now plan to go each year to the Christmas Cave, located on White Gravel Road in Minford, Ohio.
Our friends Tom and Mindy Martin as well as Bryan and Lori Davis started this wonderful Christmas display this year in the caves of the White Gravel Mines. If you have never seen the mines, they are fascinating themselves. But now, you can stroll through these wonderful caves and see the true and real meaning of Christmas.
I talked with Tom this morning after church and in just three weekends, the display has seen more than 11,000 people walk through the caves. That number humbles Tom, who feels called by God to put on the display so people can be exposed to the real reason we celebrate Christmas. Keep in mind 11,000 people have ventured out to a little town a few miles north of Muletown, U.S.A. to see the story of Christ’s birth told with Christmas lights.
When you first make the walk up the hill and enter the caves, you can feel the excitement. It’s a combination of the Christmas music playing throughout the hills along with people in festive moods and the cold weather, which makes it fun.
As you get inside, it is dark at first – then your eyes adjust as you get close to Christmas lights strung throughout the caves. You then embark on a journey that takes you through the Christmas story from beginning to end. Each scene is depicted with models and scrolls that explain what you are seeing and what really happened as the birth of Christ approached.
You see and read about the “Story in the Stars” and how the Lord put the star of Bethlehem in the sky to shine so brightly and used it as a directional tool that led people to the babe.
“…for we have seen his star in the East, and are come to worship him.” Matthew 2:2 KJV.
Then you go further and read about “The Search” or about the wise men who sought the baby Jesus, and then about “The Relationship” between Joseph and Mary. Then you see and read about the cornerstone of Christianity — “The Virgin Mary.”
I believe in the virgin birth. It’s one of the foundations that makes believing in Christ so amazing.
“And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.” Luke 1:31 KJV.
As you pass throughout the caves and more scenes so wonderfully done and illustrated, you finally come upon “The Unavailable Inn” and then “The Birth.”
It will send chills down your back. I won’t go any further, because I don’t want to spoil it for you in case you want to go. And you still have more opportunities to make it out to the White Gravel Mines as they will be open the next two weekends from 4-10 p.m.
There is live singing each night toward the end of your journey. It is followed by one special scene that makes the visit all worthwhile and sums up the true meaning of Christmas. The cross is seen in a reflecting pool, and it reminds you that Jesus came to earth as a baby to later die for our sins on Calvary.
Make the Christmas Cave your new Christmas tradition – we are. And if you can only make it one time – by all means go.
For more information, visit the White Gravel Mines Facebook page.