What I Learned When Tradition Was Broken

By: Ms. O

For as long as I can remember, Christmas Eve meant burning bayberry candles. Growing up,  it was a given that after dinner, two bayberry tapers would be lit and would burn to the socket during the night. There were some years that we would mess around, running our finger through the flame, pretend to blow it out, but to my recollection, no one ever snuffed them out. It was meant to bring good luck….I was never sure why, so I had to google it and got this:

“Bayberry candles burned to the socket, bring health to the home and wealth to the pocket.”

I knew my grandparents burned them each Christmas Eve, as did my mom. When I married and moved away, I would do the same. My husband would have a fit…probably because he was in the safety division at work and could see eminent danger in leaving candles burning all night…but it HAD to be done….because it had always been done.

This year….on Christmas Eve….I opened my drawer that I kept my secret stash of bayberry tapers, only to find it empty. Panic set in…big time.

If you don’t know it, bayberry tapers are not an easy find…especially in the south. Christmas Eve is not the time to go looking. Throughout the day, I played the war of emotions….pondering how dire my circumstances will be if I don’t burn the “good luck” candles. I had never missed a year since 1980 when I moved out….

How could I have let this happen? What will happen to me now?

Would a bayberry Scentsy suffice? Glade makes a bayberry air freshener…I think. Maybe the mall would be worth fighting in the off chance that Yankee Candle would have some semblance of a bayberry candle that I could carve into a taper…ugh.

It was in my anguish that I reflected back over my life…the changes that came…not because of the “good luck” candles….but in spite of it.

My grandparents passed away…as did my aunt. Our family has had its share of heartache. We saw the oilfield in its heyday and then the bottom fall out of it. I lost a baby….said “goodbye to friends”…went through a divorce…the list goes on….even though I burned those candles each and every year…no matter what.

Constant Flame

What I have come to know is this: God was faithful through it all. In the wonderful mountain top events…God was there…as He was in the depth of my despair.  He is the constant flame.

“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.” Malachi 3:6

That comes from the last book in the Old Testament…Malachi 3:6…before the silent years…those 400 years between the Old and the New Testament. Malachi finishes with the promise of the Day of the Lord…of His coming…but it would be a while. The passage in Malachi 3:6 is a reminder to all…that God does not change…therefore we are not consumed.

So Christmas Eve passed this year without my burning of the bayberry tapers. I am not saying I won’t ever burn them again.  If I come across the candles before next year, I will most likely buy them so I can relive an old tradition in my family…but I know it is not a do-or-die situation. The world did not end the next day. Quite the opposite in fact.  This year….we had  something new…a granddaughter that reminds me of God’s faithfulness each and every time I gaze in her eyes.

linda and E_for blog

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow….amen.

What divides us…

By: Ms. O

I am not a math whiz. Sure when I was in elementary school, I was all over addition tables. At that point in time, there was no magic five point way of doing a math problem. We memorized the tables. I knew what went with what number…pairs mind you…that made up the sum I was looking for. Subtraction…well, that was not as easy but I was still okay. When we moved on the multiplication I was back in my element….until division came and once again I was floundering…big time.
Maybe that is my problem with the word today…I am not big on division.

The older I get, the more I realize it is all part of life. My two children divided from me by the miles that stood between home and the college they attended. That did not sit well with me. It created sadness in the “in between”…and that never went away.

Marriage divided by divorce equals a great amount of sorrow…remorse…souls that need repair. The line is there…between married…and not…with the healing process that is anything but simple.

Living in the world today it seems all the focus is on division. Along party lines…there is a chasm that separates the two. What made this country what it is…living with the freedom to choose…only caused us to distain anyone who opposes our point of view.

Religion…ugh…the great divider that was never meant to be that. Four of the five siblings in my family all attend different houses of worship. Same God…different approaches…and the world will tell us that the differences are meant to do just that…divide us.

I know that there are clear differences with even something as simple as cuisine. Whether or not I like sushi or Indian food…neither of which I can stomach….divides me from a good part of the staff at work. There are vegetarians who if I took up their “way of eating”… I would starve…since there is a clear dividing line between me…and vegetables.

I grow weary with keeping up with who stands on which side or …even more so…that we have to take sides. That it not God’s original intent…not by a long shot.

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship from the Spirit, if any tenderness or compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.” Philippians 2:1-2

Perhaps we all need to read this each and every morning….just saying.

Five months into World War 1, on Christmas Eve in 1914…both sides knee deep in mud and muck…fighting and defending their own trenches….way too far from home…and family…when the sounds of a Christmas carol could be heard across enemy lines. The haunting words of “Silent Night” song in German lingered in the night air… between a space that separated the sides by a mere one hundred yards. After the German troops finished singing their version of that song, cheers rose up from the British side and they returned “fire” with the same tune…in their own language. Christmas morning, opposing sides came out of their trenches…and met in the middle…among a land littered with the ravages of war…to celebrate….Christ. They shared make shift gifts of chocolates, sausages, liquor, cigarettes and pudding…mixed in with stories of…home.

War resumed the following day…and peace would not come about until November 1918…but that Christmas Day four years before left its mark. A British soldier wrote of that day saying….

“I wouldn’t have missed the experience of yesterday for the most gorgeous of Christmas dinner in England.”

I sincerely doubt God takes pleasure in our differences…where we disagree…. in places we don’t see eye to eye. When we divide, we take away from God’s original intent….being likeminded…not in the way we think…but in the way we love….when we model after HIM. We lose focus…on what it means to be united.

The best way I learned to deal with division is to turn the problem into an adding on instead of a taking away. What multiplied by 9 makes 27?….3 of course. It takes both numbers multiplied to make up the sum…together.

As we enter into the season of Advent I pray we take a page from history…and call a cease-fire to all our fighting.

I believe that God takes great joy in the growing that came from my children growing up and into their own lives.

He celebrated my strength that came through during my post-divorce years.

I see nowhere in the Bible that God is a Democrat or a Republican…He is more about along the party line of love…His Love. 

Sure God created vegetables and I don’t fault Him for that …I simply happy that He created fruit too…which is much more appealing to my palate.

I don’t think He sees me and my siblings entering into different houses of worship…He takes delight in the fact that we enter.

I may not be absolutely certain of much in my life…time and circumstances cause change…and we have to adapt or stand firm…..depending on what is best. One thing I do know for sure…no doubt at all…God is love…He created me in His image…so His intent is that I live out that love I inherited. Our common ground between the trenches…is the birth of our Savior…what better reason than that to say…enough. Amen.