Friday, December 27, 2013

Holiday Non-Traditions?

I had been uncomfortable the weeks leading up to Christmas.  I had been enjoying others' family pictures on Facebook, and I had been reading accounts of Christmas preparations and traditions.  Talking with friends and family, I'd heard them describe their annual festivities that they had enjoyed and were planning.  I paused and reviewed the years of my nuclear "family-ness".  Then I faced the bare naked truth:  we didn't have any traditions.  In fact, we have spent no two Christmases exactly alike. 

Maybe it was hitting our fourth anniversary this October.  Something clicked with a resounding confirmation that we were absolutely, positively no longer newlyweds.  We were established now.  We should have traditions by this time, everybody has them.  Every family has them.  Why didn't we?  Is it because we don't have children?  Is that what forces people to carve traditions into their holidays and histories?  Then I realized it.  The question that was haunting me, though I tried to ignore it:  Were we any less a family because we didn't have any traditions?

We took stock of our holiday activities:  we see family, we sometimes go to Christmas Eve Eve service with our friend, Christy,  we attend a party in our community.  Did these count as family traditions?  I began a quest to think up some traditions for us and to start following them fast.  Several times over the last month I have asked Greg what traditions he would like to start.  We began to list them.  But to just pick from a list is not how one forms traditions.  They are formed by values, deeply held values. 

Christmas Eve was the turning point for me.  I have peace and realize that we have tradition, our one tradition.  You see, each Christmas has been a little different, but with one common theme:  driving to someone, a friend or family member, to spend time with them.  Today I  remembered that we made a decision our first Christmas that we would serve others somehow.  Every year that service has come to us in a unique shape and form, mostly small and unnoticeable to anyone else.  Yet, we have both recognized the small gift each year.  It occurred to me, in not having our time bound up keeping our own family traditions, we have been available to go and bless someone in whatever small way we were called.  The most beautiful part?  Anyone can be available and used by God, no matter what their family size or singleness status.  What hope this is for everyone, single, married with children, married and childless.  How wonderful.

I'm reminded of a pregnancy that was anything but traditional.  It is a true account that you can read about in the Bible, the book of Luke, chapter 2.  The couple was very young and were technically not yet married.  They had not received the community's blessing.  No shower had been given.  As well, this non-traditional pregnancy culminated in an even more non-traditional birth.  They had travelled more than one hundred miles and  arrived at their destination, only to find that there was no room at the inn.  In fact, there wasn't room anywhere in the entire town.  The whole of Bethlehem was filled with travelers who had returned to fulfill a mandatory census.  They would stay in a stable with animals.  There would be no midwives, no family to help.  There was nothing traditional about this birth.  Yet this couple had received this service, this gift, this calling in agreement with their Heavenly Father months prior.  And at the appointed time, the Christ child was born to them, and for all of us. 

Wishing you a wonderful holiday season, filled with wonderful memories of traditions and also worship and service to our God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

--Two Peas


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