There’s a season for everything
and a time for every matter under the heavens.
Every family has its traditions associated with Christmas. For years, the Monahans of Monahan Lane always hosted a big seafood dinner on Christmas Eve. Friends and family would drop by. Then we went to church at First United Methodist in Hollidaysburg, PA, where we always sat in the same spot, in the overflow space on the right side of the sanctuary – where as a kid I had my confirmation class. Then, after church, we would come back and open our gifts, starting with the youngest among us. There was always homemade egg nog and ice cream.
When I was a kid, I thought this was how it would always be. But as I got older, things began to shift: my siblings got married, moved away, and started families of their own. My grandmother passed, so her seat at the table was empty. Eventually I also moved away, got married, and began working in a church. As much as I might have wanted them to, the traditions could not stay the same.
While we all lament the loss of traditions that we value and that have felt important to us, one of the things that we have to realize is that everything we do is only for a time. Nothing can stay the same forever. People change. Circumstances change. Life changes. One tradition ends, and a new one begins.
The writer of Ecclesiastes makes exactly this point in one of the most memorable passages of the Bible: everything has its time. And knowing that nothing lasts forever, all we can do is enjoy the people, places, and times that we’ve been given. All we can do is savor our traditions, whatever they are – and be open to new ones that incorporate all the changes this life brings.
By Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
What are some holiday traditions that you cherished growing up? How have they changed, or how have you adapted them through the years? What are more recent additions (whether people/places/activities) that have become meaningful to you?
Prayer: Holy God, we love having stability in our lives. We love our old traditions, especially around the holidays. But we know that all things change, including us. Help us, in the midst of these changes, to recognize that you have made all things perfect for their time. Amen.