“Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as… as a fiddler on the roof!” So closes the song Tradition from the 1964 Broadway musical Fiddler on the Roof.

We have family traditions, ethnic traditions, national traditions, and religious traditions. Traditions offer a sense of heritage and stability, they remind us of where we came from and help keep us grounded… when they are “in phase.” In this week leading up to Christmas, most of us will likely observe several traditions, in our homes, workplaces, and churches. Traditions can be fun – and when they are “out of Phase” overwhelming.

I know people who refuse to put up a Christmas tree because of its pagan origins, while others go all out for Christmas, buying extravagant gifts, decorating their homes and yards, and dressing in seasonal attire. But, let’s face it, holidays – especially Christmas – can be exhausting, with all of the extra church services, parties, activities, meals, family gatherings, and gift giving.

So how do we keep our traditions “in phase?” We do it by keeping the main thing the main thing. If you are a follower of Jesus, our traditions are not meant to overwhelm and exhaust us, they are meant to point us to Him. We can attend a Christmas Eve service because it is “just what you do” or we can attend with a heart set on worship and gratitude. We can give gifts as a reminder of the original Christmas gift, which wasn’t placed under a tree, but wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in a manger. We can enjoy a meal with family and friends, or we can stress because we burned the ham and ran out of cranberry sauce.

We allow our traditions to knock us out of phase by focusing on them, not only by getting caught up in the celebration we experience in them, but also by making them about us, stressing about getting the perfect gift, creating the perfect meal, making it to every gathering.

So, here is wishing out a Merry “in-phase” Christmas.

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