Tuesday, December 10, 2013
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 10, 2013
Soon after moving to Savannah, Carol Anne and I began a tradition of hosting a formal dinner party during the Advent season for a small group of friends. We enjoyed over-decorating the house, dressing up in our finest, and using our best china, crystal, and silver. Gourmet meals with elegant desserts were planned months in advance. And since all of us had children, there was always a craft project during the evening -- gingerbread houses, ornaments, pillows, wreaths -- each family would create their own and take it home to use throughout the season.
After Carol Anne died, I wanted to continue the tradition of celebrating with these dear friends, but it was obvious there would have to be some changes. I had washed many pots and pans through the years, and peeled and chopped a lot of vegetables, but I was always the sous chef, never the menu planner nor chief cook. (That first year I even announced that the entree might be corn dogs, but it didn't actually come to that!)
After some words of welcome and before we sang our blessing, I spoke to the invited guests about the tradition -- how meaningful it had been to our family through the years and how we would like to continue it, but with modifications. I droned on and on till my son, always able to cut to the chase, finally interrupted to say, "So the new tradition, Dad, is that you're going to give a speech?"
A speech, of course, was not to become an annual event, but Marc's comment reminded me that no explanation was needed. Celebrating with loved ones the birth of the one who taught us how to love was the reason for our tradition, not the gold and glitter that had come to surround the celebration.
Our lives are greatly enriched by the traditions we observe. But it is easy, especially this time of year, to allow our traditions to overshadow their reason for being. The Christmas season may become simply a convenient time to throw a party, with little thought to the significance of what we are celebrating. A worthy goal for Advent 2013 would be to keep such things in perspective, and to remember what is truly important. As for my party, as long as my friends and family are there, maybe corn dogs wouldn't be so bad!
- James Richardson