December 2019

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse….

                                                                     Clement Moore

December 2004. There were ten or twelve children in my son Daniel’s first grade Sunday school class. There might have been rules about having two adults per class. But in my memory of this Sunday, I was on my own. A congregation member with two precociously verbal daughters had written the curriculum. She had designed a coloring project for the last ten minutes of the lesson. The first thirty were to be devoted to a circle conversation. Each child would speak in turn about their family’s holiday traditions. Two or three minutes per child. (If this had been a circle of adults, we’d have needed a timekeeper.)

I read the assigned explanation of what “traditions” means. Then I turned to Anna, who was sitting next to me. “What holidays does your family celebrate? What happens at your house on Hannukah or Christmas, Anna? What does your family do?” “Santa Claus comes and we open presents.” Cheerful, confident. I waited. “Are there other things?” She shook her head. “Chris – what about in your family?” “Santa Claus comes and we open presents.” One minute had gone by. “Daniel?” “You know what we do, Mom. We open presents.” “Mikey, what about in your family?” “We open presents. My dad just moved out.”

What December memories do you have? What kind of a season is it?

It’s a season of traditions. Many different traditions. It’s a season for retelling stories: the victory of the Maccabees, the Holly King and the Oak King, the baby born under a miraculous star, old family chestnuts. It’s a season for gatherings, feasting, singing. A season of excitement, especially for the young.

And it is a season of increasing darkness and cold. A season of memories, both happy and painful. A time when we feel the absence of those we have lost. A season for remembering those who are in need, and for giving what we can. A season for compassion.

This year we will not have a Sunday service on the weekend of the Hot Chocolate Run. Instead, we will gather at 4 pm on Saturday, December 7, for a service of readings, singing, and reflections on compassion. After the service, we’ll have a potluck meal. I hope you will join us.

You are also welcome to come to the service of loss and remembering on December 17. This is a quiet service for those who want to take time to remember and mourn a loved one who has died.

I wish you all a holiday season that offers what you need. I am, as always, grateful to be your minister.    Janets signature