i was recently talking with an older pastor friend when the conversation came to the topic of “tradtion”. i casually mentioned that i love traditions. he was surprised by the fact since i am in my twenties. i guess he thought us young folk scorn the traditional over the modern. maybe that is true for many, but i have my foot in both camps. i love traditions, sometimes to the point of stubbornness, but i do lovingly embrace change for the greater good. i am a Vintage Modernist. i stand in the present, holding hands with the past and future. for me, tradition has grown out of the loyalty and security cultivated by a loving family relationship, and i am so thankful for it.
while tradition is rooted much deeper than just cozy holiday rituals, those are the simple joys of life that help me to be thankful and reflect the reasons behind them. and most of the traditions i’ve kept are the ones revolving around Christmas, such as:
- putting the christmas tree up the day after Thanksgiving, and then watching “Home Alone”.
- going to the candlelight Christmas Eve service with my family at the church where i grew up. the accapella rendition of Silent Night at the end always makes me cry.
- my family’s “cocktail pajama party” on Christmas Eve (after church) with a dinner of hors d’oeurves and sparkling grape juice. afterward, my dad reads aloud the birth of Jesus as told by Luke.
- getting up at 6:00 am on Christmas to open stockings as a family. my mom always makes made-from-scratch whole wheat cinnamon rolls; my dad brews Starbucks Christmas Blend to go with them. words cannot describe…
the traditions by themselves would not last without the family love burning behind them that fuels our hearts through the cold, dark days and nights of winter.
over the past couple of years, i’ve also developed some new holiday traditions of my own: baking/decorating 100% whole wheat organic sugar christmas cookies (my family has come to expect them), shoebox gifts for Operation Christmas Child, listening to my “Peppermint Mocha Mix” ipod playlist featuring hundreds of Christmas songs, and watching “The Family Stone” after i decorate my Christmas tree (the day after Thanksgiving).
and tomorrow night i’m going to celebrate a new Fall tradition: watch “It’s a Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”, with a cup of hot cider.
what are some of your favorite holiday traditions?
i had a wonderful time this weekend visiting my sister and her family. no matter what i’ve done in the past, what i look like, how much (or how less) money i make, or how much of an idiot i can be, my family still loves me, even when acquaintances and friends fall away. it’s amazing how family relationships parallel our relationship with God. awesome, i say. here are some highlights of the weekend, if they can be summed up in bullet points (they really can’t):
- homemade chocolate chip pumpkin muffins
- talking politics with my bro-in-law
- lots of laughter
- singing my sweet little niece to sleep
- reading bedtime stories
- learning to use a sewing machine (fun!!!)
- a superfabulous morning hike in the woods
- the bread store (oh. my. goodness.)
- raking leaves
- truly amazing worship @ church
- great conversations with my sister
- talking with God and listening to Elliott Smith on the drives
and another thing: during the hike i happened to see a tree that had snapped off and fallen, but rather than falling to the ground, it had managed to
land right in the middle of another tree’s forked branches. it was just perfect- if it had had been just a few inches to either side, the tree would have fallen over the path. i didn’t give it another thought until today after church. the pastor taught out of colossians (3:13) about bearing with one another and forgiving them- how we should bear people like we bear burdens. most often i try to avoid those people who can be burdens. you know the type. the weirdos, the clingers, the needy people. i tend to be somewhat of an independent introvert and, so, very often, people can drain me. i like people, but i don’t always feel like i “need” people (i know that’s not true, but that’s how i often feel). so when i’m faced with a person who is very needy, i tend to shirk away. but God wants me to do just the opposite. i should be “bearing” those people up, just like that tree in the woods. it can’t be easy to have to catch somebody and then let their weight bear down upon me, but it’s what i need to do. i am so selfish and i know that i have burned and hurt a lot of people. so i’m having a lot of conversations with God, asking him to help me bear with people.
something happens to me when my family gets together for the holidays, and it is not pretty.
i am the family scape goat, which is much worse than being the blacksheep (although, many times the two go hand in hand). during the days spent together, all those lovely little family tensions are dumped into the pot, brought to a rolling boil, and then poured all over me, because i’m usually the straw that cripples the camel (after having all my buttons pushed).
you will then find me on the bathroom floor in the fetal position.
after much praying, crying, and (cringe) cursing, God gets me up and i trip along like a grasshopper with a broken leg, not quite dignified, back to apologize to everyone. we all make our pleasantries, and usually everything is ok for the duration of the visit.
this happens every christmas and thanksgiving, no matter how prepared i think i am. my family- the loves of my life are also the thorns in my flesh, put on earth to remind me that i need God’s grace all the freaking time.
i can’t tell you how awesome it will be when we are in the total presence of God and will never fight again.
but for now, i raise my glass of murky humility, and toast the Grace that absorbs all the shit in my life, like baking soda on vomit.
Thank you, Jesus.