It’s the holiday season – Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Day… and those are the major ones! A Google search shows 21 holidays and special days from November 1 – December 31. Egad! That’s a lot of celebrations.
In many quarters, holidays seem to have lost their meaning. It’s not just a vacation from work or school. Holidays are moments to call to remembrance specific events and commit ourselves to healthier, more purposeful living. Originally, holiday commemorations were not the family gatherings that we share today. Rather, celebrations focused on the larger community with the sharing of resources, caring for the marginalized, and telling the story of the day’s importance. Families can amplify old traditions or create new ones to capture the sense of a communal observance.
One practice is that of hospitality. This ancient custom revolved around the welcoming and assisting of strangers and travelers into our midst. Families can show that same hospitality to many in our area – those who work on the holidays, personnel at The Great Lakes Naval Station, PADS residents, to name a few. Families might consider collecting food and delivering it to an area food pantry. Let your family touch the broader community.
Holiday commemorations may cause hints of sadness but should not create sad memories. Therefore, we must work intentionally to make the holidays safe for all. Let’s be mindful of alcohol and drug use. Perhaps a new family tradition could be an alcohol-free celebration. If that is not possible, let your hospitality extend to those vulnerable segments of our community – our children, teens and those who are recovering from addictions. Offer alternatives to alcohol for them and let those options be prominently marked and displayed. Take care to monitor your children, lest they by accident or deliberately consume something they shouldn’t. Safe holidays happen as a result of careful, thoughtful planning so that next year, the tinges of sadness are not because of something that happened this year but because of something that happened long ago.
The Rev. Dr. Norval I. Brown
Christ United Methodist Church, Deerfield
CTAD Board Member