by guest blogger Jacqueline Tisthammer
There are many beautiful traditions to love at Christmastime: nights alight with dazzling displays, neighbors sharing family favorite treats, music evoking decades gone by, candlelit churches keeping vigil in song, gifts that bring delight and joy.
But every once in a while I wonder… why is it that I love Christmastime so much?
Is it the pumpkin spice lattes and repetitive playlists? Are we really that enamored of turkey that never gets done cooking at the right time or kids hyped up on sugar? I still get all the feels when I hear “White Christmas,” even though my town hasn’t had a dusting of snow on any day the past 25 years, much less on Christmas Day.
Such is the power of… tradition! (You can sing ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ along with me in your head if you like.)
Traditions are powerful enough that we expect December to be a time of beauty, of giving, of people coming together despite conflict. This is the expectation that makes it so hard when the season is not all we would hope.
For me, Christmas traditions bring a break in routine that turns my heart toward God, almost without fail. I’ve come to expect something different out of life at Christmastime, even in the hard years, and I orient my whole life around that difference.
It is fitting that the birth of God into the human experience causes us to reconfigure our homes, schedules, community life, and even radio stations!
But, really, the only thing that changes in the month of December is our focus. All that attention on the Christ Child goes a long way.
Our neighbors lived in the same houses before, but now we remember to greet them. Our family history existed, but now we take time to remember it. Hungry families were hungry already, but now we make time to feed them. God was at work all around us, we just found a reason to notice!
Each Christmas, we long for the world (and ourselves) to be joyful, generous, and full of hope. We glean this longing from the advent of the Christ Child. And you know what? We want it so much that we actually make the worldmore joyful, generous, and full of hope. We actually change our lives to focus them on Christ, if only for a few weeks.
Advent is no two-dollar chocolate calendar. It is a deep drink from the well of hope, a sweet sip of the joy we long for. Must we let it fade come January? Or can Advent be allowed to give us its greatest gift: a life oriented toward the Giver of Life.
The Lord has come! This Advent, may my soul receive her king, and let every month thereafter repeat the sounding joy.