In Lay Terms

Random Ramblings From a Church Nerd

Monday, December 26, 2005

Back in the Midwest

Well, I'm back from my 11 days in the great state of Washington. I usually say that I was in Seattle, but in actuality, my other half's sister lives an hour outside of Seattle (closer to Tacoma). This time, though, we went into Seattle twice. I like the big city. I'm not as keen on the suburban existence (a pseudo-existence, in my opinion).

It was 11 days of entertaining family (mainly children, but also his Mother). One of our trips into Seattle was to take the two oldest kids to "The Sound of Music" (the stage show). I'm a big musical theatre nut, so I was pretty excited. I was also excited to educate these kids on the joys of musical theatre. They are home-schooled, so every moment is an educational opportunity.

My other half's sister has four kids. The youngest is in her terrible twos. That means it's all about her! Sometimes she can be sweet, but she can be a little much. Of course, I'm finding that any kids can be a "bit much" after long enough.

The big excitement came on December 23rd, when my other half's sister slipped on the stairs and broke her foot. We all worked pretty well around it. The kids were rather understanding, and haven't bothered her too much. We still had our dinner on Christmas Eve, as planned. However, we didn't get to go to either the Christmas Eve or Christmas Day service. We were planning to go to only one, but when the mother of the family got hurt, then the plan went downhill.

That may have been the most disappointing part of the trip. I think I'm really excited for a Christmas Eve service every year. I want to gather in the church while it's cold and dark outside. We worship, then we light candles and sing Silent Night.

...brief tangent...I have a pastor friend who lamented to me the planning of a Christmas Eve sermon. In his own words, "No one cares. They just want to light a candle and sing Silent Night. They really just want me to shut up so they can start singing."... I guess that's me too, huh?

I don't think I ever realized how attached I was to my family's Christmas traditions until I had to merge/compromise them with my other half. We've only been to Seattle twice for Christmas. We've been to my parent's about four times now. There really would come a day when I would like to have my own Christmas in my own home...but I don't know when that day would come (for most people, it seems to be when they have kids).

I'm not even as attached to dinner on a specific day, or even what day we exchange presents. I just feel like a Christmas Eve worship is a part of my tradition. It's harder to establish a Christmas Day worship, since many places don't have a Christmas Day worship (except for the odd years like this year). What's even more funny is that I still would have felt this way if we had gone to the Christmas Eve worship at my in-law's church. They are from a more evangelical, non-denominational Christian Church. I've been to a Christmas Eve worship there two years ago, and I remember feeling the same way then. Their style of worship doesn't connect with me.

Traditions are very important. We tend to make meaning of our lives by what I do ritually and traditionally. Probably the most obvious example of this is what we do on Christmas. Traditions help us understand who we are, how we relate to the world, and how we relate to God. Our important traditions demonstrate our values in action. When we choose to spend time with loved ones, we are making a statement. When we prepare all Thanksgiving Day for the shopping extravaganza on Black Friday, then we are making a state about what is important in our lives.

The heart of the tradition makes it have meaning. Celebrate your traditions!


p.s. I'm leaving town again to spend time with my family in Northern Minnesota. I'll be back on New Year's Eve!


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