December is the most active month for bringing families together. Decorations, meals, gatherings, celebrations, gifts, letters, cards, and phone calls. The power of wanting to connect is so strong during these festive days.
Underneath these outward expressions of love and friendship, there is a favorite meal, a memorable cookie, a specific place to celebrate on the same day each year. A special trip where everyone meets or the unique grab bag that your family is known for. The specific meal that is each family leaves for Santa and his reindeer. The special prayers or important Church services that year in and year out, your family never misses.
Magically, without knowing it as children, each one of these memories become a part of who we are and how we celebrate these days as adults. Our children’s December begins to look a lot like ours.
What is missing are the lessons not seen by us as children. That our parents, friends, and those older than us, who provided us with those specific experiences, hid all of the work that was involved in creating these moments of joy.
How could they hide the work when we were there? By making the time and never complaining.
By smiling and laughing and sharing who they were by the work they did. Spending hours in the kitchen preparing, taking the time after a busy day of work to go shopping, or to write by hand 100 cards to family and friends that they wanted to stay close to.
In our busy lives, it’s sometimes hard for us to understand the power of something so simple. The work of tradition is more important than simply experiencing it, for it affirms its value in being shared for others to enjoy.
It’s importance lies in teaching us that much good can be created when we simply make the time and do the work without complaining.