This is a unique Christmas for several reasons and it seems to be calling me to flex gracefullyFor all that endures and is constant with the celebration of Christmas, this Christmas was different from all others I've experienced. These differences seem to be inviting me to be gracious in flexing as once-permanent traditions and practices continue change over time.
This was the first Christmas in my 50 years that I haven't been with my parents and sister. Typically, mom and dad drive or fly up from Florida. My dad, now 75, is convinced that spending a few days in December over the last three years has left him sick for weeks upon returning to Florida, so he decided not to come north this year. As much as mom seemed to want to be in Indiana for Christmas, she wasn't about to leave dad behind in Florida for the holiday.
So, instead of Christmas Eve with a houseful of Hays, we had relatively quiet Christmas Eve. I actually got in a nice bike ride through Eagle Creek Park. In the pm, we opened gifts sent by relatives, participated in Christmas Eve communion at Trader's Point Church, and welcomed our daughter's in-laws, Steve and Deana Butler, into our home for the holiday. Christmas morning gift-giving was shared with the Butlers in our home--another first.
I introduced a new aspect of Christmas morning with "Santa's grab bag." I dumped a bunch of $1 items from Dollar Tree, along with old, unused CDs, DVDs, cassette tapes, records, etc. into a yard leaf bag. Each person could reach into the bag, without looking, an pick out one gift. The next person could either take their gift or reach into the bag for another. It would continue this way until the bag was empty. Our daughter Abby called it "getting rid of dad's junk." Hey, work with me here...
This was the first Christmas in many years that I have not prepared for and led a Christmas Eve service as a pastor. That felt weird. I have lots of energy for planning and facilitating and preaching in worship. I'm still dealing with being in a different role and rhythm of work at this point. I'm still transitioning.
I seem to have moved through these and other changes unique to this Christmas without too much apparent stress. Changing my notions about "the way things should be" and giving "the way things might be" a chance is helping. I can't change the things that have led other people to disruptively impact my sense of tradition, place, and permanence. I can either be upset and frustrated or let go of the old and give something new a chance to be born--even shape it's beginning and trajectory, to some extent. That's an encouraging thought. I'll work with that as I move deeper into the heart of the Christmas season.
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