“But that is the way that we’ve always done it” is a common phrase used by people when a tradition is threatened. We are creatures of habit, and when our habits are shared by enough people in regards to particular events or ways of doing things, we may begin to think more formally and collectively about those habits, elevating them to the status of “tradition”. As we approach the holiday season, we see many different ways that we have established traditions, whether it is inside our own homes or within the broader community, when it comes to gathering and celebrating. Yet this is going to be a year when so many traditions are put on hold, and only time will tell if they have been paused temporarily or permanently. Many people will be saying “but that is the way we’ve always done it.”
As a community, we are certainly grappling with this reality, and we know that this is the case around the world now. We would typically have the Fall carnival on the island to raise money for the elementary school, and we would have an island-wide hay ride on Halloween for the kids to go trick-or-treating together. We would have our Community Thanksgiving event and then the Holiday Market where we could purchase gifts from all of the island small businesses. We would have the Holiday Musical put on by the elementary school kids, our Christmas parade, and candle light Christmas eve services. All of these wonderful traditions that would normally draw us together as a community, showcasing the things that make our home so special. Some of these traditions have been cancelled for the year, some have been modified, and some are still up in the air.
Our challenge then, is to figure out what to do when we can no longer do things the way that we have always done. Covid-19 has forced this type of thinking on all of us, and we can’t shy away from it. For some traditions, we may simply be able to push them off until next year and then pick right back up again, but there may be some things that we are never able to do quite the same way again. Figuring out what we can or should carry forward with, or how to best modify current traditions for the future, is going to be a process that ruffles a few feathers and breaks a few hearts. Yet as painful as the process will be, it has to be done. God has changed the world, and it is up to us to adapt to it.
I would simply ask that we all approach this season that has been known as “the most wonderful time of the year” with an abundance of grace, love and patience. People will do the best that they can to accommodate tradition, but we must recognize that there will be times when that simply isn’t possible – and that isn’t anyone’s fault. Some people are going the extra mile already, and we should show them our appreciation however we feel that we can. This will not be a time when we do things the way that we’ve always done them, but we’ve always responded to our community traditions with gratitude and love, and that is a tradition that we can keep this year.
Peace and blessings – Pastor Aaron