I’d like to introduce to you my assistant, Kate Moffitt. She is wife to Drew, mother to Avianna and Madeleine and one of the loveliest young women I know. Kate has been invaluable this past year in helping me with the technical side of my blog publishing. I asked her if she would share a guest post for Christmas and she (eventually) agreed. I think you’ll enjoy reading about her young family’s holiday tradition and her more serious thoughts on the meaning of Christmas. She concludes with a challenge to us all. It stirred my heart and I believe it will yours as well.
Christmas Waffles: What Do Our Traditions Mean?
So many of us look forward to this time of year with the anticipation of experiencing traditions. Most of my traditions reflect a relationship to someone important in my life- father, grandmother, siblings. They continue because of the relationship I want my children to have with our family, friends, and the truth I want them to know about God.
My favorite Christmas tradition is Christmas Waffles. It began 5 years ago after our first child arrived. Having the only grandchild on either side of the family at the time, we knew we had a choice: 1) try to make everyone happy driving the grandbaby to them 2) take matters into our own hands and invite everyone to our house on Christmas morning. We decided on the latter.
On many Christmas mornings we loaded up after opening presents and traveled to my grandparents’ house to eat Belgian waffles at their kitchen island. Christmas waffles is my favorite tradition because it is easy, there is no pressure, anyone is welcome, everyone I know officially has a place to go on Christmas (my house!).
Since becoming a mom, traditions have taken on a different kind of depth and purpose. I have a strange weight and joy as I acknowledge that the childhood of my two little girls is taking place. I am an important figure and author in what their story will be. Will it be a strong platform from which to launch or will it be a minefield that leaves wounds to heal? Many things I cannot control, but many I can. Most of the Christmas traditions I share with them come from my father’s parents, which means my girls are the 4th generation I know to experience them. Why are traditions important? What are they and what is the point in having them?
Webster’s first Definition of tradition is 1a : an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior.
Whether or not we intend it, the customary patterns of thought, action or behaviors of our lives will be passed on. Bit by bit traditions become the cornerstone of life as we know it — the way that life is transmitted from one generation to the next, one small act at a time becomes a pattern. God even made us to pass His truth on in tradition, one generation to the next. One person to the next. Judges 2:10 says that after Joshua died “Another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.” I wonder if it is because the generation before, who knew the Lord, did not take the time to share with the next generation in everyday life. What will you pass on today?
I have a strange weight and joy as I acknowledge that the childhood of my two little girls is taking place.
For some the only tradition you have during the holidays is not having traditions. I have seen that happen out of places of pain in some people’s lives. Maybe Christmas was another day that your parent or grandparent was trying to keep the lights on and food on the table. You may be under the weight of the battle you face right now and it just makes the fact that you are not having a holly jolly time worse so you acknowledge it as little as possible. Others feel the absence of loved ones more keenly at holidays.
Thankfully Christmas is much bigger than my traditions, and whether or not I can make them happen, Christmas happened. The coming of God to us. Emmanuel. I don’t make it happen. YOU don’t make it happen. Whether or not our hearts prepare him room, Jesus found space in a stable. Whether or not the table gets set with my Grandmother’s Christmas china, or we have money for gifts, Christmas happened. Everything else is just BONUS from this fact: every moment of every day we get a choice to invite the King of the Universe in to be Emmanuel, God with us. THAT is the tradition we are choosing to pass on during this season. What specifically happens to facilitate the sharing is less important. Traditions are inherently relational. They are ultimately about other people. So if you want to have a tradition, at some point it has to be shared.
I do not know where you are this Christmas, it could be the saddest season you have ever had. No matter where you are, I believe the idea of tradition is for us, the means of a relational God to connect to us through relationships with Him and others. It is a step toward Emmanuel. It is a step out to let you know, to help you remember that you are not alone, that you are not only not alone, but that someone else out there could use your company. You always have something to give. No matter how alone you may feel, or useless, or small your action might be there is someone else out there who needs you.
Will it be a strong platform from which to launch or will it be a minefield that leaves wounds to heal?
Let’s start a tradition right here, right now: That our Christmas tradition will be finding someone where they are, and being there too. That place might be a hospital, or it could be an office. God came to be with us right where we are- in a stinky, smelly place with animals, as a vulnerable baby dependent on a teenager who as far as anyone else knew became pregnant out of wedlock with a newlywed husband who didn’t make better reservations for their trip.
They were two disappointments — that is how holy came to dwell with you. In the plainest, most vulnerable place, a place where shame could have made two young people disobedient, isolated or rendered them ineffective, but instead made them privy to one of the greatest single moments of history. Your tradition might be spending time with the broken. It might be opening your home. It might be filled with matching pajamas, really good food, and family that you love to be around. It might be time to break an old tradition. Or it might be time to do a new thing.
When God is with you, the only thing we truly want to pass on, is that news, again and again, in whatever form it takes. It came to a hateful Herod, it came to the magi in the East, it came to shepherds, it came to a choir of angels. It is here for you, and here for me. It is a tradition, and a truth. It is inherently relational, and incredibly life changing.