Almost a year of so much change, cancellations, discomfort as we adjust to different types of lockdown and limitations… and only 17 days until Christmas (as our 7-year-old reminded us this morning). What will this year look like?
I appreciated this post on VelvetAshes.com called “Parting with Tradition” reminding us that “giving up tradition can sometimes seem a little like death.” This year, the whole world is grieving the loss of seeing friends and family, taking those dream vacations, seeing the paycheck slashed, standing in line at a food pantry, grieving the loss of a job, remembering loved ones lost to COVID and cancer and complications from pneumonia… there is a lot of loss to mourn.
Christmas feels more simple this year for us here in Lyon. We’ve been separated from family and friends 6 more months than planned and it may be another 6 months before we can see them. Grandparents in many countries have “missed” more than 6 months of their grandchildren’s growth and development and this pains me to think about. Migrants and refugees have been kicked out of their temporary housing in France, put on the street again to fend for themselves. Lines for housing and food are longer than they have been in a long time. People who live alone are facing loneliness and depression at higher rates, trying to get by on Zoom and Google Meet for all their social needs. Domestic violence has increased. Education for children has become even more dichotomized, with the rich being able to afford Chrome tablets and computers while the underserved are missing the classes they so badly need to succeed in life. There are a lot of consequences to the pandemic – there is a lot to mourn.
And when I stop long enough to take deep breaths and count my blessings, I feel there is also a lot to celebrate (but of course it can depend at which moment of the day you ask me!) We put our tree up, have been religiously eating the chocolate from our Advent calendars in the morning, we’re working through an Advent activity calendar (decorate the bedroom doors with wrapping paper, have a picnic in front of the Christmas tree, etc), and the girls are singing The First Noel all around the house at all hours of the day. (Thank goodness we have a bit of variety to balance the hours spent singing “Let it Go” from Frozen. They knew that song long before they ever saw the movie!)
As the article I’m pasting below finishes by talking about knowing and loving the God whose Spirit graciously keeps working…
This God is the one who binds up the brokenhearted, and promises comfort for those who mourn. Whether we experience loss or abundance of traditions as we prepare for and celebrate the holidays this year, we can depend on him to be Immanuel.
And lastly, the article asks:
What traditions have shaped and nurtured you?
What traditions have you had to hold lightly, or give up in cross-cultural life, or in this unusual year?
Here’s the full article: