I saw a photo from Christmas 2006 last week, in which my three oldest children all fit on one little ride-on toy car. Given that those boys are all over six feet tall now, I think Bob Dylan was right. The times they are a-changin’.
I suppose that wasn’t the specific change Dylan was singing about. But Christmas offers an odd time of reflection to imagine life as it used to be, as it is now, and as it might be someday.
Just ask Old Ebenezer Scrooge. Facing Christmas past, present, and future can create a revolution in your soul.
Every Christmas, the desire to experience Christmas with childlike wonder returns to me. Having littles singing Jingle Bells helps create that wonder a little more easily. College-aged kids who need cleaning supplies and Uber gift cards make me want to throw a party for the ghost of Christmas past.
A few years ago, when I first saw this shift to adult children in our Christmas future, I tried to prepare myself. I attempted to institute some new family traditions to make space for the eventual changes.
Those new traditions didn’t last. We all forgot about the Christmas book exchange of 2018, for example. We have clung to traditions we’ve had for years now: Cocoa and Christmas lights, baking cinnamon rolls for the homeless, extravagant charcuterie after church, and Christmas jammies on Christmas Eve.
When our kids were little, Christmas traditions felt like sweet ways to celebrate with each other and help them learn that Christmas was special. Now with our teens and adult kids, our family traditions feel more like ways for us to remember we’re loved here, that our family is an important part of who we are, and that loving others is the greatest call on our lives.
There is comfort and joy in imagining us all, twenty years from now, opening pajamas on Christmas Eve while noshing on cheese and crackers, even if we aren’t opening them together.
Maybe Bob Dylan was wrong, and things aren’t changing all that much. Maybe God’s love has always been the life raft carrying us through the toddlers and the teenagers and the pans of cinnamon rolls and whatever else we face in this life at Christmas and every other time of year.
Today I wish you traditions of love and Christmas and family and friends and hope and cookies and presents and joy and scriptures and candles and faith in the God who made all things.
Merry Christmas, you guys.
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