The other day in our Advent Study Group we talked about the New Testament characters Simeon and Anna, two elderly people who greet the infant Jesus and his parents when eight-day-old Jesus is dedicated at the Temple. Simeon has waited his whole life for the coming of Jesus. Now that his eyes have beheld the child, he can depart in peace. Anna, a widow and a prophet, has spent much of her adult life at the temple, worshipping God, welcoming visitors and sharing her deep faith with others. We can imagine that both Anna and Simeon have lived their lives mentoring others by passing on the sacred traditions of their people.
Our society aches from the lack of people like Anna and Simeon who are willing to share the wisdom of their faith traditions with the younger generations. Reflecting on the important role played by Simeon and Anna in educating the young about the spirituality of the ages, one woman in our study group lamented the fact that this year, once again, her family Christmas party with extended family has had to have been cancelled due to the COVID pandemic. These family reunions, as she noted, are one of the places where we get to share our stories about parents and grandparents and the traditions they handed down to us. I know what she means. One of my favourite times was sitting around the dinner table, hearing my grandmother and great-aunt talk about the “olden days”. I learned so much by listening to their stories.
But perhaps there are other ways we can share our stories this Christmas. After all, we can still phone our loved ones. Many of us have also learned how to Skype with relatives and friends who cannot gather with us. Then there is the lost art of “letter writing”. Our children have beautiful letters from their paternal grandparents in Scotland who, while never having caught on to the new technology, have nevertheless left them wonderful handwritten epistles that they will treasure always. That has to be far superior to Instagram and Facebook!
So if you can’t get together, try writing your loved ones a letter this Christmas. Share a special story about a childhood Christmas of which you have fond memories. And have a safe, beautiful Christmas and a healthy, happy New Year!