I was going to write a benediction, like I did last year during this week before Christmas. Truth is, I don't feel much like writing one of those.
Our traditions may be changing this year. Rain is falling now instead of snow. The days are mild and the nights are cool, but the carols ring out incessantly, and I decide that I need them to keep playing. Sometimes I need songs to sing over and over and over again, until I finally succumb to their hopeful message.
Sometimes I just need to give in and let myself hope.
The traditions change -- this I'm realizing. We're in a new house this year, and Sister is nine months pregnant with a boy I'm madly in love with already, and my grandmother's sitting next to Jesus instead of reclining in that comfy chair with blankets tucked right up to her chin.
But we're still going to go see It's a Wonderful Life in the theatre Wednesday evening, and the boys and I will drizzle so much butter on the popcorn it'll seep through the bag and onto our laps. Christmas Eve will come and I'll go to midnight Mass for the candle light service. Holiness is here without having to search, but sometimes I like to seek out the holy just as well.
I've become fearful again. I can't even put my finger on it. When I feel it well up within me, I watercolour tiny Christmas wreaths, and I bought Flannery O'Connor's Prayer Journal, just in case I forget how to pray.
Maybe you're afraid, just like me. Maybe you you need to just give in and let yourself hope. I'm stubborn, too. It's hard to give in sometimes. But hope is never a symbol of weakness. I think, more than anything, it's a symbol of strength.
I pray that when we become afraid, we might be instilled with courage and also with quiet. I pray our fear is vanquished and replaced with a deep love that we'll wrap warm around our shoulders, just like my fur vest.
Some things change, some traditions remain the same, but each year we can always be made new. Perhaps that's the hope I cling to most.
Courage, and hope, and holiness. May your Christmas be filled with all three. Please know that I think after a long, hard year, I believe you deserve this -- and more. So much more.