Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Pocket of Stillness

Ben and I both come from families that have strong Christmas traditions. Mine: an elaborate feast of fish on Christmas Eve. His: an elaborate feast of cookies on Christmas Eve. There are little traditions woven in: an extra place set at the table for the unexpected guest (mine), the reading of the Christmas story from Luke (his), breaking bread together and offering a blessing for the coming year (mine), a small meal of German sandwiches late in the evening (his). And since we live within a short drive of both sets of families, blending traditions is tricky-- it's not like we travel to one family for one holiday, the other for the next. And then we want to develop our own special family traditions-- things our children will cherish and remember that are uniquely our style (read: a little more laid back).

Since we're still a young family, we're in the process of figuring it all out. How can we honor our own family traditions while developing our own? How can we spend time with all those we love while making room for some stillness to honor the coming of the Son of God? And we're just fumbling through all this, really.

This year, there was some chaos: we had the traditional Polish celebration for brunch, came home so the babies could nap, and then had the traditional German celebration for dinner. We came home, exhausted, laid groggy babies to sleep, only to start our own preparations for the next morning. I cleaned the house, we hung stockings, I redecorated the tree (those with small children know that unless roped off, that beautiful tree will have no ornaments on the bottom half come Christmas day), and collapsed into bed.

But there was also peace, calmness. We woke up on Christmas morning, all the coming and going and visiting behind us and just had some stillness. We started a fire, read all of our Christmas books (three times at least), had some oatmeal, played together. It was a slow lazy day, and in that stillness I could feel the sweet echo: God is with us.

There's nothing more unique to each family than holiday celebrations-- there are special, silly traditions, negotiations, relationships to maintain. But I hope that you found a little pocket of stillness somewhere within all of that, whether it was in a quiet home on Christmas eve, in a church celebration, or with your families. The beauty and sweetness of stillness.

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