The same Christmas tree decorations. The same potatoes at Christmas dinner. Trees perch in the same spot as last year, and the annual sleepover at Grandma's house.
We celebrate tradition at Christmas time because it brings security.
Warm as the carols sung by choirs, and folks dressed up like Eskimos.
Tradition brews merrily in steamy mugs of mulled wine; twinkle lights keep evenings lit and darkness away. We cling to tradition with fists clenched white as freshly fallen snow.
We cling because it feels dangerous to let go.
Tradition reminds us that after another year full of the new and unexpected, after another year filled with mountain-top joys and gut-wrenching pain, some things never change. Even if it's something as simple as hanging your stocking on that same nail every year. At least it's been that way for as long as you can remember.
This year my husband and I celebrate Christmas away from family, and away from traditions of Christmases past. I uncovered something this year.
Stark and fresh, our un-traditioned Christmas stands as undecorated as the tree we've propped into the corner.
It feels empty, but the freshness is exhilarating. The security blanket is gone, and we stand, hand-in-hand, staring at this year, at each other and feeling the presence of God.
He's here. God with us.
He knows the freshness of Christmas better than any. He understands the first crack of air in our lungs as we venture into a new world unarmed with the old.
We feel the presence of God as we explore the newness of our lives. His firm and steady hand as we extend love and patience to one another. The ultimate security blanket.
This year we've started sentences like "Remember that Christmas tradition when we have scones, tea and jam on Christmas Eve?"
Or, "Remember that Christmas tradition when we don't decorate our tree?"
We laugh. We build the new. We remember the old.
My favorite new Christmas tradition is a post-present opening nap on the couch while watching The Muppet Christmas Carol.
But this year I can't help but be thankful for a God who broke with tradition... to be with us. For the sake of love, to give us grace.
The table is set and our glasses are full
Though pieces go missing, may we still feel whole
We'll build new traditions in place of the old
'cause life without revision will silence our souls.
-Sleeping At Last