A simple question: “Gena, do you have any family Christmas traditions?”
Ummm…I used to.
I imagine I felt a little like a quarterback getting tackled from his blindside. I didn’t see it coming and it stung a little at first.
I had never actually thought about it, but a lot of my family Christmas traditions have passed away. That’s the thing about being the youngest of four, entering the 4th decade of my life with no husband or children. My siblings have all started their own traditions. My parents have lost their immediate family. Gone are the days of the Christmas Eve dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant. We all haven’t lived in the same house for over 25 years. But I remember lining up at the end of the hallway patiently waiting for the door to swing open so we could race down the long hallway to our gifts Christmas morning. Santa stopped leaving that one gift wrapped in a different and specific way with our names written in gold sparkle on it a long, long time ago. The only tradition I could think of is that our family sometimes doesn’t even get together in one place for Christmas.
There was a quick twinge of sadness in the realization that I may have lost all my family Christmas traditions. However, just like the quarterback lying on his back at the 20-yard line, the wind came back into my lungs. I got up, brushed myself off, and decided that I would return the huddle and make a new play.
I decided I’m not going to let myself off the hook – if I wanted to restore some Christmas tradition in my life, I could start some now. My life may not look the way I thought it would, but it could still include some things to look forward to during this season. I thought about Isaiah 43:18-19
Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
If I wasn't careful, I would have kept my eyes on the past. All the things that used to happen that aren't happening now. Or, I'd focus on all the things I couldn't do, instead of what I could. I want to see the new thing God is doing in my life. And from those new things, I could create some new family traditions.
Tradition #1: Dinner and church with my parents on Christmas Eve. I can’t even tell you how awesome it was to have family with me at church at the candlelight services. I have gone to so many holiday services sad that I didn’t have family sitting next to me. What was different this year? I asked! I made it clear it was important to me and I didn’t say their no for them.
Tradition #2: Scheduled phone calls with good friends across the world. There are some very important people in my life who are not a car drive away; but they are a phone call away. I hadn’t spoken to 2 of my dearest friends, and had the chance Christmas week. We laughed. We cried. We were reminded of the special bond we have. After hanging up the phone, it was EXACTLY what I needed. Next year I will make sure that we speak to each other at least once during Christmas week.
Tradition #3: Crafting before and after Christmas. I love to do this. It fills my cup. I’m going to schedule crafting time before Christmas with friends who can make it to work on projects for the season, or to begin some I’ve been putting off. I’m also going to budget a certain amount to take advantage of the before and after Christmas sales. In fact, that’s where I’m off to next.
The thing is, traditions only happen if you start them. I thought back to a recent staff meeting that I was reminded what Lou Ludwig said: “Intention without action is useless.” I had the choice to sit around and be sad about the things that aren’t happening now, or get up and see a new thing happen.
I choose to see the new things. Put me in, Coach!