It’s funny how the winter holidays happen. It’s like a locomotive, gaining speed around each turn, careening along until – sometimes — I feel mowed down by the long lists I carry around while I try desperately to check off things. And no matter what I do, the list keeps getting more things added and fewer things completed…and then, just as I think I’m going to collapse under it all – there is this moment of quiet and peacefulness.
On Christmas Eve, after the early service at 4pm, I went home and joined family from Atlanta and greater Boston, along with friends who needed their intentional family around them, and toasted the season with champagne and baked ham and biscuits. We had music playing, a fire in the fireplace; there was laughter and sharing all around. A few went off to another service at the congregation our family’s been part of for years; I chose to sit by the fire and catch up on family news.
And we told stories, watched our nearly-four-year-old grand-nephew examine the Christmas ornaments, and realized that life was pretty good. The next morning brought a leisurely breakfast with our daughter Abby, home from New Orleans, and gifts and more music. There were phone calls and video chats with other longtime friends, and then – prime rib in the oven and cheese ball on the coffee table – more family began showing up, and a progression of gift-giving and receiving ensued.
In the evening my cousins arrived, Hanukkah candles were lit, and more celebration took place as sixteen of us blended our families, our faith traditions, and our hearts. And the next day we were in the audience for one of the final Christmas Revels performances of the year – blessed by the many contributions of the Horsburgh and Swanson families – as we swirled in the horror of the Acadian diaspora of the 1700s (mirroring the one going on, right now, in Syria) and celebrated the “laissez le bon temps roulez” spirit of life in Louisiana now.
On New Year’s Eve we gathered with our closest friends and held hands around the table as we recognized how fortunate we are in our lives, and in our connections to one another. Good fortune comes not from money, but from the company we keep and the love we share with each other. And in that spirit, I hope that you, too, have taken time – or will do so this week, as the year is new – to reflect on what is of true importance to you and those around you…your family of birth or of choice. What is it that makes life valuable and worth treasuring? What is it that will feed your soul and your heart in the days to come? Who is that you want to spend your precious time being with, and why is that so?
These are the questions, and the choices, that stand before us in this New Year. These are the opportunities that we face in these still-dark and early days of January, 2017. I hope that, for you, the choices include supporting Follen Church and connecting with those who also call this their spiritual home. I pray that, for you, you will embrace the opportunities that exist to share an exploration of our Unitarian Universalist faith with your children and youth. Let us make the decision to do what we do – each thing – with care, with commitment, with compassion, fed by the spirit of love and the sure knowledge that together, we can change the world.
Deb Weiner, Interim Director of Religious Education