Last Monday we had our monthly ministers meeting, the other ministers take turns opening the meeting with a spiritual practice. At our last meeting, Rev. Carla led a beautiful and connecting spiritual practice. It was fun, sweet, and opened me to thinking some higher thoughts.
Jenga as a Spiritual Practice
She brought a Jenga game which is part of her holiday tradition and used it as a springboard for connection. A couple of us had never played Jenga before but both of us caught on quickly. For any readers who don’t know what a Jenga game is, it is a game of skill and strategy in which the players take turns dismantling a tower without letting the whole thing collapse. Even though it was fun, everyone was really quiet when anyone was taking their turn. We wanted all of us to be successful, which means we would remove one of three planks, without touching any other plank and without knocking the whole thing over. There was such a wonderful feeling of fun and loving support. If we were successful, we were each asked a question about our holiday experiences. One of the questions was, “What is your favorite holiday memory?” Another was, “Were there traditions in your childhood family and do you still keep the same traditions?”
I felt sad at the second part of that question because my family, like so many other families, had their special rituals. But now I am a minister, and I love our Christmas Eve service, but I do not participate in any of the traditions from my childhood. I don’t bake. I don’t put up a tree. I don’t even play carols on my piano. I also do not have anyone to pass it on to. This goes with the territory of choosing to live alone and also not having any children of my own.
My sister continues the tradition
My older sister, who has three grown children, has kept many of the holiday traditions. She learned to make Grandma’s Christmas cookies — one is a sugar cookie and the other is a molasses cookie. As kids, we just called them the brown and white cookies. She learned to make Grandma’s sweet rolls as well, which were distinctly Swedish with a touch of cardamom in the dough. Since she has two daughters-in-law whose husbands have affection for sweet treats at Christmas, I think that she has done her best to keep the traditions alive.
Another tradition was about the Christmas tree. We would usually get the skinniest, most bedraggled tree in the lot. (It didn’t occur to us that this was the only one that Mom could afford. All of us loved the lights of the tree. We also liked those lights to be reflected in everything. So even though we would start with a lopsided, bedraggled tree, by the time we had reinforced it with tinsel and lights, it looked almost magical. (Well, perhaps it looked magical to the ten-year-old me.) My favorite part of Christmas Eve was for us to turn out all the lights, except for the ones on the tree, and look with the eyes of a child. I believe we saw innocence, beauty, and hope in and through those eyes.
Do you have a holiday tradition that you will honor this year? I wish you PEACE.