The tradition of community

Today was the 1st Annual Kernan Christmas Party.

I cleaned the house like a madwoman quoting my mom and wearing slippers all day.

I baked the week away with a ridiculous ratio of cookies to guests.

We opened our home and partook in tradition.

I have been feeling an anxiousness, a stirring in my heart that is telling me to go home. I feel it when my friend’s Facebooks transition from scenes of dorms and college life to familiar scenes of home and comfort. I feel it as leave gets approved for those stationed here and they return to their roots. I feel it as if the colder temperatures tell me to migrate. It’s time to go they seem to call to me. This restlessness is robbing me of the festivities of Christmas and it wears on Matt and I like a heavy fatigue. The miles between here and our hometown seem insurmountable.

The Annual Thomas Christmas party was born from this same heartsickness. I can hardly call it homesick because I am home. Though in a part of the country I never thought I’d live, I’m with the man that I said home will be with for always. But there is a legitimate heartsickness that desires comfort and community and simply the ease of being known. My mom, one of the strongest individuals I have met to date, felt this stirring too when she first got married and had her little family of Dad and I. She missed Aunt Lucille’s annual Christmas party. I can practically see the twinkling of the house, the aroma of dishes from relatives outdoing each other of Christmas treats, and the bustling of a house full of family.

From this the Thomas family tradition was born and from that the Kernan family tradition was born. We carried the notes of Christmas past in our preparations: veggie trays that mimic the towers my dad would make, gingerbread men with frosting caps and mittens, peppermint bark that my baby sister makes annually with pride, my great Aunt Lucille’s breadsticks, Alaska coffee percolated in the kitchen, tradition exuded from our humble abode.

We are made with an innate desire for fellowship, connection, and relationship. The relationship we have as the church as the bride of Christ is mirrored when the church loves each other well and loves others well. This desire for connectedness was tangibly felt in every smile at the party. I could perceive the hunger for fellowship and knew it was given and received by all. I know this because I felt in myself and recognize that we are made for this. The tradition of Christmas parties, holidays, and the like are more than the good food and legacy: it’s about a coming together and bringing others in. The Christmas party is not the tradition it is if no one comes. The tradition is in community.

As Matt and I continue to make traditions, I pray that our focus will be on what fosters fellowship, what embodies open doors and open hearts, and what welcomes all into a community of connectedness. I am overwhelmed to remember that it’s bigger than me, it’s not an issue of “us and them”, it’s a collected us and a call to make sure there are no “them” on the outside.

Because we’re made for that.

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