Traditions have been an integral part of Sacred Heart Villa’s history. Some of our traditions have been postponed or put on hold this year, like our annual Christmas pageant. This year our traditions may be challenged due to COVID and social distancing, but that does not mean we cannot adapt them or start new ones.
How we as adults accept change and inconveniences will be noticed by the children. How we handle the unexpected turn of events can be a teachable moment for our young ones. Think of St. Joseph as a model of someone who faced challenge after unexpected challenge with firm trust in God. He did not have a clearly defined plan laid out for him. First, he was challenged to accept the unexpected pregnancy of his betrothed, Mary. An angel suddenly appears in a dream and convinces him to still accept Mary as his wife. Then he had to travel to Bethlehem to take part in a census when Mary was due to give birth. There is not a spare room to be found, so Joseph and Mary take shelter in a stable. Among the animals, Jesus is born. Joseph had to make do and use a manger – an animal feed trough for a bed for the Son of God. After Jesus’ birth, he receives unexpected guests that range from shepherds to nobility. A heavenly angel again challenges Joseph to flee Bethlehem to Egypt to protect Mary and Jesus from King Herod. Parenting Jesus was not an easy task! Through it all, Joseph handled challenges with trust and faith God.
Is there someone in your life who modeled for you how to handle the rough, unexpected challenges of life? Is it a parent, a grandparent, or a longtime friend? Take some time during this last week of Advent and Christmas to remember and celebrate those people who model resilience and hope. Share some memories of these people with your family. Perhaps you may want to tell the story of where you came from and where you were born, so your children learn the story of your life. As you share the stories, keep in mind that the love of God is the thread that weaves every family together – even yours.
Maybe this year is a good time to start new traditions. Each tradition is a heart-felt memory. It is carried in one’s heart and is too precious to forget. It is a firm foundation that one can build on as life progresses. It is building relationships. It is nurturing what is important. Reflect on the meaningful traditions that are a part of your life. What is the source of those traditions? (They don’t have to revolve around Christmas, but many do). Is there a tradition that you would like to start in the hopes that it will be passed on? What traditions are rooted in your faith life? Here are a few suggestions to consider:
Many families purchase a particular ornament that is symbolic of the year or of some particular event. (What will this year’s ornament look like?) Then, each year the tree is decorated the story that surrounds each ornament is retold. The family members give thanks for all that has been and pray for what will be.
Sometimes families choose a particular group of people who need help. It might be relatives, friends, or a particular cause. Together they decide what they will do and how the giving or sharing will be accomplished.
A favorite tradition of many families is to attend Mass together (might be virtual this year) on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day before any gifts are opened, recognizing the first and most important gift to us, Jesus Christ who came to gift us with salvation.
Some families bake a birthday cake for Jesus and the family sings Happy Birthday to the Infant King on Christmas Day (and enjoy the cake)!
May every grace and blessing be yours this Christmas, and may all those you love, know deep peace and joy! A blessed Christmas to all of you!