Anchored by the Same Old
Updated: Dec 18, 2020
In the impetuousness of my youth, I found myself wanting for something new at Christmas. I don't mean a silver ribbon-wrapped package under the tree; I mean some kind of new way to understand the Christmas story. What I didn't understand is that when everything else is changing (like things do during one's youth), the story serves as the anchor.
Looking back from this middle age, I see that reciting word-for-word (even "Quirinius") along with the reader (often my dad) allowed me to internalize the familiar. It was an annual touch-point that led to self-reflection and re-engagement with the world.
We need familiar anchors, especially this year.
This year I find myself longing for the familiar. I won't physically be with my family of origin; I haven't been present with others as they offer their take on hope, peace, joy, and love; I haven't even touched an Advent wreath--the one I thought I ordered never arrived. We unceremoniously hauled out our small collection of Christmas ornaments and, more as a duty than delight, decorated the Christmas tree that we cut down in the rain instead of traipsing through the snow (or leaving a cell phone at the snowy scene of the tree harvest...remind me to tell you that story sometime).
Surely we will find our way as a family in a new city in a new climate. Surely I'll find the sense of familiar when we read those same old words of Luke's on Christmas Eve, even if only the four of us are in the room. Surely this will be the last pandemic Advent...right?
I forget sometimes that the preparation is the practice. The preparation both requires discipline, and offers it. As we put up the decorations, we take the time to contemplate. As
we move Mary and Joseph closer to the nativity scene, we consider our own journeys. As we prepare gifts, we offer gratitude for our relationships.
So especially because this year is unlike what we've known before, we need the familiar--we need the same old story. We need the anchors in our lives to remind us of meaning and purpose that are greater than ourselves.
May you lose yourself in the story this year. May you know the blessings of the season.