It is the Third week of Advent and as Christmas gets closer we start thinking more and more about our Christmas traditions. Some of them because we are anticipating and looking forward to them, some of them because we have to be sure that we get them in and are considering when we will get them done. We know the ones related to gifts and the shopping that they require. Others related to cards and the time it takes to send them out and the reminders we get as we receive different ones in the mail each day. Home decorating traditions can have numerous levels to them, from the timing of when the lights go up outside to when and who puts up the Christmas tree (and when it comes down). Then we also have the traditions of different parties and gatherings we go to, family, friends, or co-workers. With family some of the traditions will go down to the level of who brings what food, even in what dishes, and where someone sits.
These and other traditions can be very good and an important part of the holidays, but since we still have a little time before we get into the midst of it I would ask you to be sure to consider how we consider Christ in each of our traditions. In the Christmas Cards we send out, and the sentiments that we write on them. In the decorations we have and what they mean to us and what they say to others. In the different parties and gatherings we go to and the relationships they strengthen.
I would also ask that you consider how important the Christmas Mass is in your traditions. Sometimes it can seem like it is just something that we have to fit in with everything else. Or other times it might be, like many of our other traditions, that we always went at a certain time and so that is what we are going to do even if it just ends up being another stop in a rushed evening and we might really be able to celebrate the Mass more if we went the next morning. We have numerous options, what is the best way for you and your family to celebrate Christmas Mass? Having a tradition of a certain time and place can be very good and help us continue a good practice that we wouldn’t want to lose if we changed something about the tradition. But if it is important enough to us a change in the time we go might help us more fully appreciate and celebrate the Mass and Christmas itself.
Building new traditions and dropping old ones can happen over time. When we do this it is an important time to be sure what we are celebrating, and if we are keeping Christ in our traditions.