December 5, 2022 by Holly St John

January 19, 2023

In thinking about our theme for Advent this year, how we use our senses in the way we experience this season, I was reminded of so many things that I experienced as a child.

My childhood was spent in Venezuela until I was 10 years old.  I was reminded of the smell of the Christmas trees we would make.  Since we lived in a place where traditional Christmas trees were not available, we did what any normal missionary family would do.  We adapted and made our own.  We would find a tree limb, and put it in a pot in the house.  Then we made a mixture of laundry flakes and water, and when we wanted to be fancy, we put glitter in it.  Then we would carefully put this mixture on each branch, covering it completely to make it look snow covered. 

I know this sounds simple and kinda corny, but when we moved back to the states, my sister and I tried to recreate it to “take us back” to our childhood.  It was never the same.

How many times do we try to recreate what we know, because it brings us comfort and elicits good memories?  It’s soothing and it feels safe. 

As I got older, I thought less and less about those homemade Christmas trees.  I developed my own traditions with my family, and was able to celebrate holidays with my grandparents and extended family.  This was a gift, after not having that luxury while growing up.

Another tradition that was started once we came back to the U.S by my parents was to invite all those people we knew that didn’t have a place to go on holidays to spend the day with us.  What a beautiful tradition! 

My prayer for this Season is that I learn new and brave traditions that are inclusive and meaningful, not just for me, but for others as well.  

Holly St John

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