Traditions are nice. I appreciate how they offer a baseline for routine, because I love a good plan. Hearing stories of what others do “every year” for holidays is a great instructor for those of us that can’t do the same thing year after year. For some, it’s a matter of distance and finance. For others, it’s about logistics.
In ordinary conversations with my siblings, I’ve heard about their traditional menu at Thanksgiving and Christmas. It warms my heart to know they follow a traditions trajectory as a family. Trouble is, I am a part of that family and only know about it because I’ve been told. In fairness, on a couple of occasions in the last 20 years I’ve been able to experience it firsthand.
I live exactly 1,100 miles from family-making it too far to reasonably make the drive in a day. Miles aside, I have another issue that’s far more pressing. Establishing tradition is difficult with a foundation of every other year. For this reason, you will rarely hear me say…we always do this.
Always is not in the repertoire of those in the position of sharing children. Try substituting always with every other year. It just doesn’t work the same! So–every year, because who has the bandwidth to remember two years ago, we begin anew. In the years between, when it’s quieter in the house than I’d like, I find myself fighting hard against sadness. Maybe it’s fair to say I mourn the inability to establish tradition. In the tension between desire and actuality, loneliness has a way of moving in unnoticed.
As you move through the holidays this year, can I invite you to consider expanding your circle to include someone that may not have a tradition to enjoy? Maybe your inclusion of the single parent who will be without their children, the family in a financial crisis, the single guy or gal, or the widow would make the difference between loneliness and purpose. The generosity you extend from your table might be the one story told year after year.
This year, I will focus more on the “one time” stories than the “always” ones. The one time someone shared a kind word in a stormy season. The one time we were able to serve together as a family on that holiday. The invitation to eat at that restaurant with a family the first year I was alone. The one time I flew home, on Christmas day, with my momma by my side.
This perspective helps me appreciate provision. Let’s face it, it is far easier to remember what we’ve missed than the opportunities we’ve received. Take a few moments during this rushed season to remember the provision of the “one times” in your life. Take it a step further and be a “one time” memory for someone near you.
A thankful heart, one filled with an abundance of joy and sweet memories, is available to each of us. Don’t let traditions, or a lack there of, set you off course. Run forward. Be the joy to someone battling loneliness this season.
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