“There are two ways of getting home; and one of them is to stay there. The other is to walk ’round the whole world till we come back to the same place.”-GK. Chesterton
These words help us understand that no matter how far we look outside the world for comfort, indeed, coming home can be where we will find our greatest rest and peace.
I imagine these days, we may need a reminder about this with spending lots of additional time at home.
While Chesterton’s purpose behind these words was to find and connect to our Spiritual Home, I find it also connects me to another truth about traditions and intentional living.
We often find ourselves searching for fulfillment in things outside in the world, only to find that we land back home—our place of peace.
This is especially true during the Advent and Christmas season when we search to be fulfilled by events, shopping, checking all of the boxes of all things we want to complete.
The truth is that we can spend our entire lives running around outside the world, outside our homes, only to find that our peace comes from within.
That peace and joy come from how we set our hearts and how we focus our perspective of home.
Sometimes in our busy-ness, we just don’t always slow down to see it. By nature, we are busy people who fly through our Christmas to-do list, checking things twice. We run from event to event, and often we never pause long enough to see the beauty, the peace, the light and know the true meaning of the season and traditions we treasure.
Over time, our family began to make specific, intentional decisions about traditions we chose to live out in the past several years, especially when faced with circumstances out of our control.
We began to see how “sometimes circling around the world,” caused us to lose true purpose, joy, and peace in those traditions.
We began to understand how checking off the bucket list year after year truly impacted the traditions that meant the most to our nuclear family—our small domestic church.
“The future of the world and the church passes through the family.”-St JP2.
This may feel true now more than ever as we grapple with our hearts and the holiday traditions we may not be able to enjoy as we have in the past.
The last few days, I have spent time pondering our traditions, those that simply will not happen, and those we can somehow adapt.
We have spent years creating traditions for our family-some that just fell into place simply by consistency and some that required more intentional work.
Just the other day, after decorating the tree at a casual pace unknown to me, I found myself grateful for the slow speed compared to the years past that was more like Santa rallying the Reindeer…On Dasher, On Dancer, On Prancer, On Vixen, On Comet, On Donner, On Blitzen…I think you know what I mean.
Our schedules felt as if we were rushing through our holiday list without lifting a pen or taking a single breath.
Hang the wreaths on the windows.
Wrap the twinkling mess on the trees, hang the garland over there.
Hurry to the Christmas Pageant and then the concert we can’t be late.
Say cheese for our Christmas cards and Whisper Santa on your list.
Decorate, bag, and exchange the cookies, oh, and hang the stockings with care…
And for a moment, there is melancholy over the traditions that are canceled this year.
I was quickly reminded that while we mourn those things that made our holidays special, we can also make choices for how we move forward in joy and peace.
I realized I was already replacing a tradition and returning to a beloved and missed custom. By reading the Dicken’s Christmas Carol to the girls, rather than visiting the Dicken’s Christmas Village Tour, we returned to the practice of reading Christmas stories to my once young children.
What a sweet moment for our family to once again slow time and fill it with treasured words. (Read reflection here)
This year, we know the movement and rhythms of those traditions may be entirely changed by things out of our control-grief, loss, health, and of course, restrictions based on where you live.
I know we are longing for familiar events to be written in our calendars once again so we may connect with our people and our LOVED ones.
If we allow it, we may discover the traditions that matter most are the ones that really reside inside our homes and inside our hearts.
“Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do…but how much love we put in that action.” Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa’s words and Chesterton’s earlier words can both shed light on this moment. They can offer a perspective about how arriving HOME really can be the best place to discover the truth, beauty, and goodness of traditions in our family.
Here is my hope and prayer for you as you continue to journey through Advent and arrive at the Nativity of Christ.
May you find time to pause and consider your traditions and take time to reflect on how they impact your heart and your home.
May you form lasting and meaningful treasure in new traditions that you may start in your home this year.
May you find the gift in small traditions that replace those that have to be safely packed away like those tangled lights and garland until next year.
May you discover new ways to honor and make peace with those lost traditions that may not come to fruition this year.
May your new traditions offer hope, peace, joy, and love even when your favorites may be interrupted during this most magical time of year.
May you find yourself coming home (rather than walking around the world) to tidings of comfort and joy enveloped by traditions that focus on light and love.
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