Our community theater recently performed Fiddler on the Roof with a rousing rendition of the famous song. While living in South Africa with my family, we adopted the British tradition of celebrating Boxing Day on the 26th of December. Historically it was a day when servants and tradesmen would receive a “Christmas box” from their employers or customers.
Since the Christmas holiday is smack dab in the middle of summer in the Southern Hemisphere, we learned to celebrate Boxing Day in the South African tradition of spending a day at the beach. After all the hubbub of Christmas Day, having a holiday to recover from the holiday seems like a sensible idea.
When we returned to the United States after a decade of celebrating Boxing Day in our adopted homeland, we gradually forgot this tradition, until last year.
We usually celebrate Christmas Day with family in Florida and then drive up to Tennessee on the 26th to visit with more family. Last year there was a flood that put the river road to my parents’ home under water. We decided to delay our departure by a day to allow the waters to recede. When we awoke on the 26th with nothing on our calendar, I suddenly remembered Boxing Day!
What a sensible idea to make the day after Christmas a holiday.
Since we had been expecting to depart early that morning, we were all packed and ready to go and had nothing more to prepare, so we went for a long family bike ride on the rails to trails near our home. (Sorry, we live in Florida where we can ride bikes in the winter.) I still reminisce about that day of leisure as one of my favorite memories.
This tradition was reignited in my family by unexpected circumstances. How thankful I am that The Lord reminded us just how pleasurable it is to enjoy a day of rest, the heart of his Sabbath.
Increasingly, I realize that I can choose to enter into his rest. The days are there for the taking. The choice is mine whether or not I receive his invitation.
I thought it would be helpful to include a few practical ideas from my family. Some of these traditions happen during the holidays, and others can last the whole year. Get creative. Start dreaming. You’ll start to find many small ways to connect more deeply with your precious people.
The Gift of a Crafted Prayer: Crafting a prayer for a loved one will deepen intimacy and gratitude.
New Year Family Reflection: Each New Year’s Eve, sometime in the afternoon or early evening, my extended family gathers together in the living room to allow each person to share a victory, struggle, joy, or sorrow from the year. Amidst much laughter and many tears, we celebrate God’s goodness through it all.
Family Craft Projects: When the extended family is together, several of us prepare craft projects that create an outlet for creative expression and family bonding.
Monthly Sibling Chat: A couple years ago, one of my sisters felt stirred to coordinate a “sibling chat” on the first Monday evening of the month. hat a gift it is to invite reflection from one another, to create space for expressions of deep joy and heavy burdens so that we know how to pray for our extended family.
Sabbath Blessing: One way that I partake in this legacy is to phone my father each Saturday for a Sabbath blessing. I love to hear his voice say, “Father, what do you want to speak over my precious daughter?” The prayer that proceeds is always right on target, pressing me into Father’s love, drawing me into his presence.
This holiday season I hope you can discover some traditions that do not require any more effort from you. Ask God to show you can you can sprinkle moments of quiet and connection into your schedule.