Christmas Daybook, 6: Savor memories (even the hard ones)

Welcome to my Christmas daybook for these 12 days of celebrating. We'll be spending Christmastide with some favorite short films and video clips. Join me, won't you? 

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Hill Family Christmas, created by Natalie Murphy

I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!
— Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

England has Boxing Day on December 26, and for the past 25 years or so, our family has Hill Family Christmas. This started the year Brian and I (as the eldest children and the first to have grandchildren) decided we'd prefer to have our own quiet day at home on December 25. My parents and siblings, mostly still living at home at the time, graciously flexed their own important traditions to accommodate ours, and a whole new family tradition began. Now, it's as good as any celebration could be, and I'm grateful to my family's commitment to "keep Christmas well".

I'm especially mindful of these shifts in tradition as my own children have left home. My hope is to flex with their needs in the same way decades ago my parents did with our ours. We've also begun (it seems, comparatively, at a rather late date) to learn how to flex tradition necessitated by our aging grandparents. The fact that I still get to see my grandparents (on my father's side) at Christmas is no small gift, I realize. Yet, it's still difficult to see them decline. You'll see in the video our collective attempt to take the family celebration to them, squeezed in all around my grandmother's nursing home bed. 

I can't think of a better better Biblical passage for Christmas than the one my brother chose and my nephew read and my grandparents verbally affirmed than Revelation 21. In our own visible decline, God is, in truth, making all things new. While our outward bodies (families, traditions, memories) decay, there is a real work being done to restore us all. Thanks be to God.

And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!
— Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

All readings for today: Isaiah 25:1-9, Psalm 20, Psalm 21:1-7, Revelation 1:9-20, John 7:53-8:11

Prayer for today from Evening Prayers For Every Day of the Year by Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt:

On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The Lord has spoken. Isaiah 25:7–8, NIV

Lord our God, your kingdom is coming. Your help reaches us. However much we must suffer, we look to you, for you have given us your promise. You have promised that all shall go well with us. You have promised that while still on earth your people may have strength to trust in you and wait for you in patience and joy. So lay your hands upon us, O Lord our God, and let your redeeming strength be revealed in us. You know all our needs. You see into each heart and know how to help, as you have promised. Bless us and help us, and may your name be honored among us. May your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth as in heaven. Amen.
— Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt

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Savor Family Memories (& don't be afraid of the ones that make you sad)

Spend some time today watching the videos and looking through the photos you took of family and friends this year. If you have access to old family movies or photos, look through them. Notice what you are feeling as you savor memories, and avoid making general judgements about who you are and where you come from. Just look, notice, tell stories, voice any sadness, and give thanks.

Here's an excerpt from a post Brian wrote about a painful family memory and a time we did not flex tradition for the sake of our kids: Christmas Confessions From An Exhausted Dad.

One family tradition is to read the Christmas story from Luke 2 while the kids bring each character of the nativity to the stable at the appropriate time.

In our twenty-seven-year-old-parental-wisdom we decided to keep this beloved family tradition using the hand-painted ceramic nativity set that we received for a wedding gift and that we hope is used well after Tamara and I are gone.

Four kids, ages 6, 4, 1 and 17 days, a priceless ceramic nativity, a stressed out dad
and a video camera.

Seriously. Bad idea.

I scolded, growled and snatched Baby Jesus out of the hands of an innocent child. At one point during the morning, I threatened to cancel Christmas. Yep, Christmas cancelled on account of kids being kids. I was George Bailey.

(read more here)

(See all Christmas Daybook posts from 2016 here.)