On my family's Christmas tree when I was a child was a hand-blown glass Santa that had been handed down in my father's family. It was so old none of the white was white any more. The crystal my husband and I set the Christmas table with was my Grandmothers. And the macrame angel on top of our Christmas tree? That was made by my husband.
I learned German primarily so I could sing Christmas carols in German, like my grandfather did. Stille nacht, heilige nacht... The potato stuffing recipe is a family heirloom from my family, the lefse recipe--from my husband's. (Lefse most closely resembles a cross between a tortilla and a crepe and is made with potato.) Even the cookies we make, and perhaps even more so the ones we long for, are a product of the families we come from. (Sandtarts from my family--a superthin, cut-out sugar cookie of the Pennsylvania Dutch. Spritz from my husband's family.)
Of course, different families have different traditions. Tamales for many of our Latino brothers and sisters. Seafood on Christmas Eve for many Italian families. As we approach the Christmas holidays many of us are reminded of our families. That is only appropriate. Families, after all, have a significant impact on us, on our values, and on how we understand our place in the world.
The geneaology of Jesus given at the beginning of Matthew gives us a sense of where Jesus comes from and how he fits into the world. To the author it is important for us to know that Jesus is of the line of Abraham and David, and that his birth fits within a perfect symmetry. But for me, it is mostly a reminder that Jesus is also the product of a family, just like we are, a family with traditions that are built on the larger traditions, maybe with recipes, and small celebrations that told Jesus he was loved and that he was part of a family that stretched back in time, well before Mary and Joseph. And so his story really began must earlier, even as his story continues on.