My heart is a bit heavy these days in anticipation of the next few months and all the holidays that will also likely be disrupted by the continued COVID-19 pandemic. We simply have missed so many events and traditions already, from graduations to summer vacations to back-to-school activities. It is a lot to take in, process, and move beyond.
In the coming weeks, my family will engage in conversations about the holiday traditions we love most. My crew is likely to roll their eyes and fight this conversation, but I want each person to list the traditions that are special to them and, more importantly, to talk about WHY these traditions are important for them. And I need to process this myself, to prepare and create new ways of celebrating beloved holidays. I also want to remind myself and share with my children holidays that have had changes before and the holiday celebrations still held meaning, despite awkwardness and differences. Growing up we always went to my Grandma’s farm in Southern Illinois for Thanksgiving. With her passing, traditions adjusted, some became beloved memories like early mornings in the kitchen with my Grandma and new traditions were created like turkey tag outside.
I hope openly talking about these times ahead will allow us to acknowledge sadness or disappointment, as well as come together to make the best of hard times. My hope lies in if we can’t do the exact tradition or be surrounded by our church family or with loved ones states away, maybe we can find new activities and events that speak to WHY the tradition is meaningful. My nine-year-old already has ideas for Halloween where we could just have our kids favorite candy in our house and they go knock on various doors to trick or treat. His creativity is inspiring me (especially since Halloween is my least favorite holiday anyways)!
As I embark on this journey, I draw strength from nature around us right now; fall, reminding me of our faith … that in death, there is also new life. I am reminded in Isaiah 43:19 to draw strength from God, “I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
And, somewhere I join you in spirit singing Silent Night by candlelight on Christmas Eve.
Our beloved Teacher and Friend, be with us as we enter into the coming months fatigued from months of the pandemic and anticipating many changes to joy-filled, yearly traditions. Comfort our heavy hearts; lead us to new ways to honor the WHY of these events. Be with those who are lonely, hunger, job-less, worried and all searching for hope and love.