For all who hate change,
While nobody likes a broken record, it’s funny how much us humans love repetition. We love our annual traditions. We love to re-watch our favorite movies. We play songs we’ve heard thousands of times and sing them like it is second nature. Many of us drive to the same job, the same house, on the same roads each and every day. We live with routine. We survive off structure. We thrive on tradition.
Routine provides safety, because we know what to expect each day. Structure provides security, because the plan is already set and scheduled. Traditions provide a centeredness and hope that we may cling to throughout the year – one that, in the midst of a hectic reality, we know will provide a peaceful comfort to our ever-changing life.
If you’re like me, you have to pry your fingers off the grip you have on tradition. Especially at Christmastime. While I can’t always have control over the gusts of change life throws at me in my job, my friendships, my finances, or my future plans, I can at least cling to the tradition of the holidays.
For me, the place is Boone, North Carolina.
It’s my parents.
It’s my sisters.
It’s my cousins, aunt, and uncle.
It’s my grandparents.
It’s snow, and lights, and skiing, and Home Alone, and Dan’l Boone Inn, and tinsel.
It’s how I end my year, knowing that no matter what unexpected trials life will throw at me during fall, spring, or summer, I can always come back to Boone in the winter. When I come back to Boone, I return to traditions that keep me centered. I return to a place where I can be the same girl I was when I left a year earlier. Where the biggest thing that changes is the placement of the lit-up train, the name of our favorite breakfast joint, or which Mast General Store we go to first.
How badly I wish that life was as consistent and secure as the steadfastness of Boone. In reality, life throws us curve balls everyday. If you’re like me, your nature is to dodge them and hate them and sit in the fetal position until they stop coming. Perhaps more than anything, I hate letting go of tradition.
Yet despite our feelings, life always does what it does best – it carries on. It leaves behind nobody. It forces change upon us, ready or not. Loved ones leave us. New loved ones are born. Different people are added to the equation while others are subtracted. Money rises and falls. Time finds itself in surplus or in depletion. Minds change and sometimes feelings do, too. In the center of this change, you find yourself desperately trying to hold on to all the flailing pieces of life that are blowing like the leaves in autumn.
The past few years, I’ve fought to keep my death grip on tradition. I’ve tried to make my tradition stay the exact same, re-creating the same memories, with the same people every year. As the years go by, doing this has begun to feel like playing the exact same card game with an entirely different hand of cards. Simply impossible. Like the leaves of autumn, keeping all of the traditions close in the midst of gusts of change will leave you desperately grasping. It will leave you by the fireplace in your beautiful condo in Boone, crying. And while it doesn’t seem right to release our grip on something we love, sometimes the greatest changes in life come when we do.
As I sit in this comfortable chair by the fire in my favorite Christmastown, a family of five comes walking in, dusting off their snowy coats. The two small girls look around excitedly, as the mother holds the hand of the littlest one. Dad holds the door. Grandmother beckons the two older girls to admire the beautiful garland and Christmas trees. Making their way to the hostess stand, the girls jump and giggle. Grandad comes behind them, tucking the car keys in his pocket as he embraces his adult daughter with a smile in his eyes. This family was once my family. I was once the little child grasping my mom’s hand.
But now, I sit in the chair with my husband by the fire. As I return to Boone, this family arrives for the very first time.
I can’t help but wonder who was sitting in that chair by the fire when I was the little girl holding my mom’s hand. I can’t help but wonder if she felt happy or sad looking at us. I can’t help but wonder if she, too, wished for traditions to be the same.
I don’t know.
I also don’t know how your holiday season looks this year, or how you’ve dealt with the trials of change thus far. But what I do know, as I sit here in Boone by the fire with my husband, is that as sad and difficult as change feels, it is also life-giving. It’s needed. It is stitched in the fabric of our hearts, no matter if we realize it or not. We are beings made for change. It’s not a matter of IF we will face change in our lives, but HOW we will move when the winds of change blow. We can choose to stand immovable, desperately grasping at the twirling leaves of tradition we’re so afraid to release. Or, we can move with the wind. We can let it take us where it will, finding joy in every new and meaningful memory life offers us.
Today, I am thankful for the change God has brought on my life. Each and every moment, good and bad, brought me back to Boone. While my life looks different than it did five, ten, fifteen years ago — the change I dreaded and avoided is the very thing that has brought me unexplainable joy. Perhaps not the same joy as I felt when I was that little girl holding my mom’s hand, but a joy that’s just…different. Not better. Not worse. Different.
It’s here that I realize that different isn’t bad or good. It’s as meaningful and scary and beautiful as it sounds.
My hope for you this season is that you boldly return to your place of center with all of the newness and change life has brought you. Return in body, mind, or spirit. Return with new people, or return by yourself. Return in health or in sickness. Return in joy or in pain. Return as you are today.
You might look different, feel different, and be different than you were before. But the change that you feel will bring you a fresh perspective, an experienced wisdom, and a renewed contentment for the important season you’re in.
And although you have, indeed, changed from the seasons that hold your dearest memories…your heart has not. You’re still the same ‘you’ that’s always been. You’re an ever-evolving, ever-growing, and ever-amazing ‘you’ that you are.
Seasons change and you change, but the Lord abides evermore the same, and the streams of His love are as deep, and as broad, and as full as ever.Charles Spurgeon