Which holiday traditions are really important to you?
When I was a child, my mother baked Christmas cookies with our large family every Christmas Eve. She and I and my brothers would bake all day and listen to A Festival of Lesson and Carols, broadcast on our local NPR station from King’s College in Cambridge. Later, we’d all dress up in our best clothes for church and then we painstakingly selected the one present we were allowed to open that night, before being sent to bed to try and sleep through a buzz of anticipation and sugar.
Now that I am grown, Christmas Eve is both the same, and different. As when I was a child, I usually spend the day listening to Christmas carols and getting ready for church with my family. Instead of cookies, though, we’ll cook and eat spaghetti, which is the traditional Christmas Eve dinner from Jeff’s childhood. Our method of opening presents, slowly over the course of several days, is a new tradition not borrowed from either of our childhoods, but one that suits our small family perfectly.
As we change, our traditions will change. We’ll keep the things that are important and allow the things that don’t matter that much to fall away. I loved baking cookies when I was younger. (To this day, when I hear Once In Royal David’s City sung acapella, I can smell the fragrance of spicy, brown-sugary cookies.) As an adult I do other things that I love just as much. Today we’re creating the memories that Elijah will be able to treasure when he becomes an adult, and develops new traditions of his own.
It’s the same in our church family. In each generation, some traditions pass into memory and some new ones are born. There is joy in remembering the things that sustained us in the past, and there is also joy in creating something new that feeds us in the present. As we go about the business of celebrating our first Christmas together, we’ll keep discovering new traditions, as we celebrate the traditions we have loved from the past. Let us rejoice in both the old and the new. God blesses them both!
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Here's what'll be in our newsletter this month in the pastor's column. Although it's talking about Christmas already, it seems to go with Thanksgiving, too...