For me, the holidays are about rituals. For my family growing up, these were snow and lights and kringla and tons of relatives and artificial trees (hey, we have allergies). December 25 would come, always accompanied by a trip to church, a nice dinner, and presents around the tree. While the order of events would shuffle from year to year, these were the anchors which held us in place, reminding us about the season we were experiencing.
As the years have gone by these rituals have slowly dissolved, replaced by the logistical difficulties which prevent them. My wife’s family has become almost like my own, which is wonderful from a love perspective, but further compounds the difficulties around holidays. (Between my family and hers, we live in three different states and two different continents — if we were to take a round trip to see everyone in only our immediate families, it would cover over 20,000 miles.) The ritual activities that have made the holidays feel like a holiday have been crumbling for years now, and I feel the pent up urgency of something new coming more poignantly than ever before.
I suppose life is like this, as seasons change and customs shift. Life contracts and expands, and our experiences cover the gamut of life, some of which are disorienting and off-kilter and some equalizing and balancing.
The older I get, the more I grasp the cycles of life. Like waves that gather, crest, break, and repeat, most things in life seem to have a natural beginning and ending. Summer gives way to winter. Flowers bloom then wilt. Day gives way to night.
Perhaps finding a way to make peace with the endings is what allows us to really celebrate a new beginning. Perhaps it is our acceptance of the calm of darkness which makes the freshness of a sunrise so wildly invigorating.
So in the interest of that, I wish you all a truly good night.
Why God Is A Quarter Note (Or Eighth Note If You Prefer) by Josh Allan Dykstra on December 26th, 2006
The Meaning Of Life (Yes, Seriously) by Josh Allan Dykstra on June 14th, 2016
Why I Love Christmas Lights by Josh Allan Dykstra on December 17th, 2012