Our holidays are different this year. Even if you insist on keeping your same traditional gatherings with family and friends, the holidays are different. There is a lot that has happened in the past year. In addition to the shifts of families and lives that regularly happen every year and the changes each of us as individuals experience, we have tension and concerns about health, finances, politics, and the future.
I know some people might say, “I’m not letting any of that bother me. I’m just moving forward, because it’s a waste of time and energy. I’m going to do what I always do and nobody can tell me otherwise. Nobody is going to control what I do.” If that’s you, I am sorry for you, because the reality is we are all moving forward, and doing so with disregard for the community as a whole as well as those close to you—even if they agree with you—is careless. I get it; there are complicated intricacies and implications we’re coping with. Our character is being revealed through it. It’s not as simple as we want to make it, yet we are inviting divisiveness where we could grow in community and humility and sacrifice and sensitivity. Our pride is rearing its ugly head, and it is disheartening and destructive.
Why do we insist everything remain the same—the way we want it? After all, if you are honest with it, our traditions have changed over time out of necessity. We shift our traditions, gatherings, and priorities as we grow. We adjust as family changes. We invite new opportunities and experiences. That always requires a sacrifice of something that used to be. Sometimes we don’t have an option; someone is no longer with us, by death or by choice. And we cope.
I spent Thanksgiving with a small group of people I love. It was a sweet (and savory) time, worth the effort and caution it required. Had I spent the day by myself at home, it would have been a good day, too. If we get into the habit of relying on a bulleted list of boxes that must be checked in order for a holiday to be great or a day to be enjoyable, we’re missing the point of holidays that invite and celebrate gratitude, faith, and hope. We’re projecting requirements onto holidays that aren’t at the core of them. But perhaps that’s revealing what meaning we put on those holidays.
What do you want this holiday to reveal about you—your faith, hope, compassion, and humility or your pride, justification, and stubbornness?
Think about it. Be intentional. It matters to those around you, and it speaks to who you are and who you are becoming.