Human beings are creatures of habit. The holiday season experience reveals this. We have certain things we do with certain people at certain times. Getting together with family has always been an important and memorable tradition for me. I remember going to my grandparent's home and seeing all of my cousins. Married life brought a whole new set of traditions as we visit the in-laws as well as my family of origin. Squeezing everyone and everything in over the holidays is never easy, especially when "complications" arise.
This Christmas season will have its share of complications as the traditional Christmas with certain people will not happen. This will be the first Christmas after the death of my brother, Eric, in May. I know this is an adjustment for all who loved him. I guess I could get stuck in that loss of not only of Eric, but the disappointment at not having my Christmas in my traditional way with him.
Yet, Christmas is more than our habits and traditions. Christmas is a celebration of the way God became flesh and dwelt among us. It is an old, old story (of Jesus and his love), for a new day. Maybe its time for a new tradition---not just of a celebration of what was done a certain way, in a certain place, at a certain time--- but of a new tradition of open eyes claiming and searching for the Incarnation here and now, with whom we are with, even in less than ideal circumstances. For Christ comes to us each day in new ways. We are like those Israelites of old, Simeon and Anna, in the Temple. We celebrate the traditions of our past and look to new ways in which God reveals God's self.
Eric will not be at the table this Christmas. I grieve that. But this Christmas I hope to search for new traditions, new connections, new ways of claiming and being family as all of us who grieve live through the gift of God's love anew. May God bless all who grieve and hurt this holiday season.