Dé hAoine, Nollaig 02, 2005

The traditional holiday...

I was listening to NPR the other day, at least I think that's what it was. The women was interviewing several authors about books that I'm assuming have published recently. In the last interview that I listened to seemed to be based around a statement that the author made that basically went like this..."I love my family but the holidays are like an episode of survivor." What this particular person was saying was that the family was basically waiting for someone to mess with tradition. The first person to do that was then ostrasized. Personally it sounded like any number of made for T.V. Christmas movies that you might see this time of year. From there the conversation became about traditions and there place in the family and holidays. They talked about the importance of the traditions and why it seemed to many a mortal sin to break with tradition and do something totally to the contrary. They blatently asked the question, "Why are the traditions so important in the first place?" They really couldn't answer it that satisfactorally. They tried to say the normal thing that it wasn't the traditions that made the holidays, but once they did it left the Holidays very open and formless. The problem is that once you strip away your traditions for the holiday, your left with nothing socially. That's the problem with Social holidays, which is what they were avocating here. Seriously, think about it. Memorial Day for instance, what do you do on Memorial day? There's a parade, a family picinic, a baseball/softball game (if your into that), there's a patriotic service or speach at the local Cemetery, but to be honest that all there really is. If you take all of that away what do you have? Thanksgiving is the same way, it's the things that you do on the last thursday of November that make it thanksgiving. It's the Macy's Parade, it the family laughing loudly around the turkey. We atempt to sanctify the day by asking each other what we are thankful for this year and we smile sweetly at the child who spouts out "Jesus." It's the tradition that makes a Social holiday what it is. Can the same be said about Christmas? This was the particular holiday that these two women where talking about. There are so many traditions surrounding christmas, both old and new.

I "talked" my family in to getting a Christmas tree the day after thanksgiving this year. I only had to tell my Mom and Dad that I was working Christmas day and that I wouldn't be back before then, so it was difficult at all. But this was a break from tradition for us. We always go out as a family to pick our tree. Mom gives it the hug test to make sure it's big enough and yet not too big, Dad scouts around looking for trees that are tall enough and don't have holes in them, and Matt and I cut it down and drag it out. This year mom had to work and so did matt, so Dad and I went out and found our tree. We all still beamed at this because we all got to decorate it. But it was this that makes christmas for us. A lot of Christmas traditions will be broken this year in the Combs house hold, and while we don't like it, we don't have much of a choice either. Both Mom and myself are working, and I'll have to drive for about 4 hours before I get there. No presents Christmas morning, no family Christmas eve service. So are they right? Will my family break apart because of this? Will I be ostrasized for not showing up until 4 or 5 in the afternoon?

You know...Dr. Suss was right. If you remember, this great mogul of American Lit. once wrote a story by the name of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." If you've not read it...get up right now, go find it, and take five minutes out of your day and read it. Don't go get the Jim Carey movie, read it. If you really want to watch it, there is a cartoon version that is on T.V. ever year, watch that one. Anyway, for those of us who are normal, and know this story like we know our own names, you'll remember that at the end of the story the Grinch has all the Christmas trees, all the Who toys, the rare Who-roast-beast, and even the last can of Who-hash! But there perched of the pinnacle of Mount Crumpit, the Grinch heard somthing he had not expected to hear.
"Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,
Was singing! Without any presents at all!
He HADN'T stopped Christmas from coming!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!"
The Grinch of course has a change of heart, the Who's welcome him, and even let him carve the roast beast. (small sniffel) Even though Dr. Suss never meantions what more there could possibly be to Christmas than the traditions we set up around it, he does acknowledge that there is more. Nothing can change the fact that Christmas is a true "holy day." While they give it their best shot, no tradition can replace the true reason for Christmas. That a Child was born, that Angles sang, that time was split, and our lives forever changed. God's Reconciliation come to earth. So...I sit here and listen to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra wail out there version of christmas music. I'm thinking about how different this christmas will be, but I remember that the message is the same everywhere you go. In Connecticut, Christ came. In Pennsylvania, Christ came. In Tennesee, Christ came. In Japan, Christ came. In Indiana, Christ came. In California, Christ came. In Canada, Christ came. In Europe, Christ came. In Baghdad, Christ came. "Hark! The herald angels sing, "Glory to the newborn King. Peace on earth, and mercy mild. God and sinners reconciled!" Joyful, all ye nation, rise. Join the triumph of the skies; With the angelic host proclaim "Christ is born in Behtlehem!" Hark! The herald angels sing, "Glory to the newborn King!"

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