Sounds like the holidays may look a little different for many families this year.
If you’re one of them, you may be feeling bummed. After all, no matter our age, change is hard – especially when it comes to family traditions.
While COVID-19 may be this year’s culprit in changing holiday dynamics in your family, seems we’re wise to make the best of things because, after all, change is inevitable.
We cling tightly to precious memories of Thanksgivings and Christmases past, trying to recreate at least a spark of the magic we remember growing up.
We, of course, want to do our part to carry the torch into the next generation, sowing seeds of special times together.
But change visits all homes eventually.
Some loved ones pass away, leaving holes in our hearts. And it’s just a matter of time before those once little, wide-eyed kids in Christmas jammies grow up and move away or marry.
With extended miles and family come logistics harder and harder to coordinate. Trying to wrap our arms around all the moving parts becomes challenging, to say the least.
The choice becomes frustrated fighting to hold onto set-in-stone traditions or fluid focusing on what we do have control over: our attitudes and responses to the changes as they come, for they will come.
We can be hard as concrete, which will soon crack and crumble. Or we can be more like a lump of clay, willing to be transformed into something useful and possibly even beautiful.
We’re experiencing these winds of change in our family.
Thanksgiving celebrations have evolved, admittedly somewhat painfully.
It’s hard experiencing those first “different” gatherings with missing family members. And just when we begin to get used to the changed guest list from one generation, we see the writing on the wall – the list is changing again.
This Christmas will likely be our first without our daughter home because of her work schedule.
While it breaks my mama heart to think about her possibly not even seeing our Christmas decorations, not sharing the special foods and time with us or participating in the family gift giving/opening, I know Christmas is about so much more.
And, as they say, an arrow can’t fly until you let it go. It won’t fulfill its purpose tucked away in the quiver.
I must trust that she will begin experiencing the magic of Christmas in new and deep ways far away from home but always close to our hearts.
So, as the holidays approach, let’s resolve to remember why we gather and why we celebrate.
Whether we add celebrations to accommodate certain family members’ schedules, settle for scaled-back numbers at our tables or even forego in-person celebrations to instead gather around a computer screen to see and talk with loved ones, let’s remember it’s up to us to remember the “why.”
We can make the most of each day, each holiday, in our own hearts and minds, but it’s a choice. Our choice.
Rather than going through our traditional motions, maybe this is the year we will find ourselves taking each other for granted less and being more willing to express our love and appreciation.
Maybe we will sit bloated, staring into our devices less and engaging in real conversations more.
For there can be silver linings in the clouds of change if we only believe and keep watch for them.
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s to not take our blessings for granted.
And while it’s important to express our love and gratitude to our family and friends this Thanksgiving and Christmas, let’s not forget to whom we owe the most thanks.
Holidays and traditions evolve, but may we remember Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). His love endures always. He won’t let us down.
No matter where we are or who we’re with, we can count on him and his beautiful love, grace and mercy.
Let’s thank him with hearts full of gratitude and praise. Rather than wallowing in self-pity over changing times, let’s resolve to seize these days and open our hearts to the possibility, through his spirit, of making new and lasting memories that may be more miraculous than simply magic.
Finally, if the winds of change are blowing through your family like mine, let’s be sure to check our root systems. We want to bend but not break.
We want to be rooted in love, peace, and contentment. The choice is ours but those gifts are from God. Will we accept them?
“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit with your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power … to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:14-21)
Gina Moore, a news-editorial journalism major, has operated Marketplace Consignment Sale for 26 years and has worked part-time at Treasures. She also enjoys country cooking, reading and writing about motherhood, life on the farm and how God’s love and lessons surround residents.