Ever since we had kids, we more or less have been doing the same Christmas traditions for the past 10 or so years. Even when my kids didn’t quite understand what we were doing, I still tried to let them experience the Christmas season as distinct from all other holidays by creating traditions and giving activities that would remind them of Christmas. Usually, the trees and decorations are up by October; the activities are planned, and the materials are prepared by November. We ease into December with only the party schedules to worry about.
Not so this Christmas season.
We ended November with a roller coaster of emotions and events. We went from one happy day to one sad day to another exhilarating day then to one of our saddest days — one day after another. Our church in Greenhills celebrated its 10th year anniversary, my only sister got married, and my mother-in-law finally ended her battle with cancer and went home to be with the Lord. These all happened in three days.
When usually we would be with the kids doing their activities, or with friends having parties, we
instead were at the wake of my mother-in-law, honoring her memory, rejoicing in the hope that she is now in heaven, yet grieving over our loss. It felt like our days were put on pause, while the rest of the world continued.
It has been a week since mama Violy’s burial.
It feels like we all have to go back to our regular routines and responsibilities, but it also feels like we cannot. Not just yet.
I just went through the plans I had made for the kids this month. The first week of December had gone, and I’m afraid the second week will also pass without me doing any of the Christmas activities I had planned for them.
What about our traditions???
Yes, what about our traditions?
It is tempting to try to keep our traditions for the sake of maintaining tradition. It is tempting to think our kids would appreciate Christmas better because of all the activities that cause warm, fuzzy feelings. I am tempted to feel bad that I am not able to keep some our traditions this year.
But what about our traditions?
Will Christmas be less Christmas-y without them? Will it be less meaningful? Less exciting?
This year, THIS is what Christmas looks like for us— for the first time, it is devoid of the well-planned advent activities and exciting Christmas countdowns. For the first time, my kids experience grief and loss up close. Perhaps also for the first time, there isn’t going to be much of the warm fuzziness we all came to be familiar with, and we all have come to look forward to.
But then again, isn’t THIS Christmas— To be able to celebrate despite not having celebrations and festivities? Isn’t THIS Christmas— To experience peace in the midst of grief? Isn’t THIS Christmas—To rejoice in the hope that we have in the time of pain and loss? Isn’t THIS Christmas— to have more than warmth and mush, but to veritably rest in God’s embrace?
This Christmas, may we not settle for keeping tradition for the sake of keeping them. Christ came not just to give us a reason to be sentimental during the holidays. Let’s not dilute Christmas by just looking for that “warm, fuzzy feeling.” Christ offers much much more than that.
THIS is Christmas: that almighty Christ came to be with us— to give us hope and to allow us to see and live beyond the here and now. He came to give us victory over sin and darkness. He came so we can have love, joy, and peace– now, and for all of eternity.
Let us remember to celebrate all THAT.