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Traditions for a non traditional year

Anchors as Footholds

I’d like to think about traditions for a moment. The smell of walking into Grandma’s house on Thanksgiving. The sound of fireworks on the 4th. The back to school pictures. In December, my kids can count on getting to open one present on Christmas Eve and the total surprise, each year, that this one gift is a new set of pajamas. It’s almost as dependable as the gift of new socks I used to get from my mom each year around the Christmas tree. 

Traditions are anchors. They are dependable footholds that help us navigate the stormy seas of life. If you question the importance of traditions, think about that first Thanksgiving after Grandpa passed away and someone else had to cut the turkey.

Who Moved My Tree?

I innately knew the importance of traditions as I was growing up. And I may have been a little obnoxious about it all. My parents had made the decision to remodel our house earlier that summer. The footprint stayed the same, but the layout was very different. The biggest change happened in the corner of the living room where we always put up our Christmas tree. It was now the door into my parents’ bedroom. And I was having none of it. That next December I did something I never did. I finished my shopping early and wrapped my presents by mid December. And then, I put them right where I always put them. I put them in the proper place. It wasn’t my fault that it was now blocking the way into my parents bedroom. Every time they went into their room they had to navigate around and step over my stubbornly placed presents. If they moved them to the new, non-traditional location–I moved them back to the old spot. The place where the tree used to be placed. I was not comfortable with change.

The power of family traditions and rituals has a transformative and stabilizing effect—especially on children. It is one of the vital ways that a sense of identity is passed on from one generation to the next and it hones a sense of resiliency. Now, way too much has already been said about how unique the year 2020 has been. You don’t need me to rehash it all. I only bring it up to state the obvious. In a year that has been so vastly different we need some anchors to help steady our equilibrium. So, my question for you is simply this: What traditions are you going to hold to this December?

How, then, will you live?

I get that they may–and will–look different. But, some elements of your holiday rituals ought to be intact. You may need to get creative about how it is played out, but I encourage you to do it anyway. For instance, our family was scheduled to go back to Ohio to celebrate Thanksgiving with our whole family. Like so many other things, the Rona nixed our plans. And, because it was such a bummer of a shift, Deanna and I made the decision to upend much of the traditional Thanksgiving culminating in eating crab legs instead of Turkey. It was completely out of the ordinary for us. But, we still celebrated Thanksgiving. We still took the time to do some deep reflecting on gratitude. We still paused and remembered years past and loved ones now gone. It was completely different–but the tradition and anchor of Thanksgiving still held.

So, what’s the tradition that you will celebrate and lean into this December? What will help to hold you together, even as everything around us falls apart? It is one of my greatest hopes that one of the anchors that remains a part of your holiday celebration is worship. I get that worship looks different. We are gathered in masks and sitting far from one another. Many are staying at home to remain healthy. Even still, worship is our weekly reminder that there is a God. And it is an echo that stays with us all week long that He is good and able.

Christmas Under The Canopy

And, in that same spirit, I share with you the excitement for our Christmas Eve worship. Christmas Under The Canopy will be a wonderful evening you won’t soon forget. We will have three worship experiences and each will be unique and memorable. Beginning at 4pm, join us for a Live Christmas Story Experience where you will hear the stories and they will come to life. Our live nativity animals will be here to help us remember the setting of Bethlehem and God’s faithfulness. At 5pm we will have our first worship that blends the previous hour together. Come and worship under the Canopy tent that will be on the front yard. We will be outside and socially distanced, but we will be safe and blessed. At 8pm you are invited to join us for a traditional worship service with Holy Communion. We hope to see you here–bundled up and dressed for warmth! Also, as many of our people are still keeping safe by staying home, a digital worship experience will be provided online. We are working to stream the live worship services as well.

Photo by Hert Niks on Unsplash

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